Match Report 2016: Harlequins U17 vs Taranaki U18

Harlequins U17
Taranaki U18
Saturday 27th August 2016
Vogeltown Park, New Plymouth
Result: Harlequins U17: 31
Taranaki U18: 18
Brief summary of first half:

Aston Finau, Connor Brennan, Maiora Taupo, Sam Pou, Tevita Fa’ukafa, R Kelly Paekau-Rush, Jock Yarndley, Thompson-Reed Karena, Riku Morisaki, Rhys Dickinson, Brian Junior Lima, Tao Savou, Hunter Johnson, Tyler Riki-Pakewa, Hadleigh Ilton, Josh Froneman, Jodeci Savage-Waru, Brodie Toia, Joseph Tauheluhelu, Reegan Crampton, Logan Catherall, Nikora Maibibi.

Well the season kicked off last Saturday with what was expected to be one of our hardest games of the season against Taranaki U18. With a few players out with school commitments it was time for us to test the depth of our squad and allow a few players to step up.
From the kick off our boys controlled possession but where met with some solid Taranaki defense. Some strong running by second five eight Tao Savou was rewarded with a try which was converted by Tyler Riki-Pakewa. A kick through looked to have put half back Riku Morisaki in for our second try; however, the assistant referee deemed a Taranaki player to have just beaten Riku to the ball. Taranaki responded in the way we expected with some strong mauling and forward play resulting in an try in the corner by the Taranaki winger. The arm wrestle continued until Taranaki were awarded a penalty which was kicked taking Taranaki into half-time with a 8-7 lead.

Halftime Score: 8 - 7 to Taranaki U18
Brief summary of second half:

After the half the play went back and forth with both sides not taking full advantage of opportunities. A nice break by centre Hunter Johnson resulted in his first try of the day which was converted by Riku Morisaki. Some good forward play put Taranaki under pressure near their line which paid dividends with hooker Connor Brennan going over near the corner. The try was unconverted.

Another converted try and two more successful penalty kicks by Taranaki had the score at 19-18 to Harlequins. With five minutes left to play, Taranaki were awarded what looked like a very kickable penalty but fortunately for us it was unsuccessful. A sharp Harlequins backline move put flanker R Kelly Paekau-Rush through a hole which was finished off by Hunter Johnson, dotting down for his second try of the afternoon and at last giving us some breathing room.

From the kick-off Taranaki applied the pressure and regained possession. Some strong defense by our boys resulted in Taranaki turning over the ball and slick hands put Harlequins winger Nikora Maibibi into some space. Taking the opportunity, Nikora showed his pace and step to go around the Taranaki fullback and score in the final play of the game. The try was unconverted.

Fulltime score: 31 - 18 to Harlequins
The coaches were happy with the final result but admit the game showed the typical signs of a first up run. They look forward to a strong training this week with an improved performance on the weekend against the NZ Area Schools.

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