Match Report: Harlequins U17 vs Auckland Divisional Under 18

Harlequins U17
Auckland Divisional Under 18
Saturday 17th September 2011, 2pm Kickoff
St Pauls Collegiate, Hamilton
Result: Harlequins U17: 12
Auckland Divisional Under 18: 10
Brief summary of first half:

Peter Simeon, Kereti Tonga, Mark Tyrell, Lui Finau, Mason Nestor, Brodi McCurran, Nathan Sunde (c), Isaac Van der Valk, Dylan Bower, Josh O’Flaherty, Luke Masirewa, Gary-Jack Gibb, Josh Gascoigne, Chad Bracey, Josh Fawcett
Jack Munce, Wade McLean-Te Huia, George Forster, Jared Newing, Latrell Tither, Jono Feast, Keagen Faria.

The first half began with the Harlequins side playing into a relatively strong wind in fine conditions at St Pauls Collegiate. Prior to the match the school had had their annual Inter house rugby tournament on resulting in variable ground conditions for the match.

The Harlequins side controlled possession well for the first 10 minutes of the match and began to string a few phases together on attack. After being turned around by the Auckland side, standout midfielder Gary-Jack Gibb made an incisive break from deep in the Harlequins half, shrugging off a number of defenders before being taken down by the Auckland defence. Following this the Harlequins won clean lineout ball, fed the backs and winger Luke Masirewa was able to cross over in the corner. Kicking directly into the stiff breeze, Josh O’Flaherty was unable to add the extra points.
Directly off the kickoff the Harlequins side were back into it again. The kick was taken cleanly and after one phase was once again spun through the backline into the hands of fullback Josh Fawcett. Fawcett showed good pace to outflank the Auckland defence and set off along the right sideline. He was able to stay clear of the defenders and as he entered the oppositions 22m zone he fired an inside pass to number 8 Isaac Van der Valk who scored close to the uprights. This time O’Flaherty was able to add the extra two points.

The Harlequins were travelling at just under a point a minute for the first 15 minutes yet couldn’t carry on with this for the remainder of the half. Having gone up 12-0 after 15 minutes there was no change in score until half time. Some strong goal line defence was needed to keep the physical Auckland side out deep into the first half.

Halftime Score: 12 - 0 to Harlequins
Brief summary of second half:

Having developed a strong lead playing into the wind in the first half the Harlequins side knew they needed to control both possession and territory in the second half as Auckland would come out firing.
Auckland began to settle into their work early in the second half and after seven minutes of ongoing pressure through pick and go play from their forward pack drawing in Harlequin defenders, spun the ball wide scoring in the corner. The try went unconverted to make the score 12-5.

The next 20 minutes of the half was back in forward with both sides making positive moves on attack but neither was able to apply pressure for long enough to score any points. With 3 minutes to play Auckland mounted yet another attack and crossed for a crucial try 15 metres out from the sideline. Into a cross wind the Auckland kicker was unable to add the conversion, making the score 12-10 to the Harlequins. The final two minutes was intense, but after the Auckland 1st Five missed a drop goal attempt, the final whistle blew for a hard fought victory for the Harlequins.
Fulltime Score: Harlequins 12 Auckland 10

Fulltime score: 12 - 10 to Harlequins
Outstanding Players/Moments in the Match: Number 8 Isaac Van der Valk was energetic around the field along with winning three crucial turnovers at the breakdown. Prop Mark Tyrell was a physical force particularly on defence against the larger Auckland side along with fellow forwards Peter Simeon and Mason Nestor. Gary-Jack Gibb was outstanding at second five, causing havoc for the Auckland midfield with powerful ball running and decisive breaks. Once again Man of the match went to captain and open side flanker Nathan Sunde for his outstanding work rate around the park and strong leadership.

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