Match Report: Harlequins U17 vs NZ Area Schools

Harlequins U17
NZ Area Schools
Thursday 27th September 2012, 5.15pm Kickoff
Result: Harlequins U17: 38
NZ Area Schools: 5
Brief summary of first half:

Ihaka Mita, Hayden Bell, Reginald Matekohi, Angus Seddon(C),Benjamin Greene , Drew Booten, Matthew Staijen , Jarrod Gwynne , Liam Robinson , Tipene Toi-Anscombe, Brandon Baillie, Denzil Southy Wilson, Dylan Samson, Aaron Crow , Matthew Blackie.
Marinus Du Preez, Piahana Astle-Harris, John-Boi Nonoa , Atunaisa Katoa, Conner Fullerton, Satoshi Filitonga , Isaiah Cooper, Brigham Parai

There was a five day turn around for the Harlequin boys this week, before they lined up in their test match of 2012 against the NZ Area Schools. The Harlequin boys had a short training run on Tuesday and weren’t pushed too hard so that they were fresh leading into Thursday night’s game at Waikato Stadium. The NZ Area Schools got together on Monday which didn’t give their coaches very long to put together a team that was going to be able to compete for 70 minutes in front of a small but loyal crowd (many of who were family and friends of both teams). Both teams got to walk on the field before kickoff and would have be able to feel what it would be like to run out in front of thousands of loyal Waikato or Chief supporters. The sun had been out all day and the scene was set for a big game of free flowing rugby from both teams.
With both teams testing each other in the first 5 minutes play was a little scrappy until all players settled into their work. Once the nerves were out of the way, Area Schools put plenty of pressure on the Harlequins line having three or four attempts to break through or crash over, but the Harlequin team held strong and begun to fight back with a few good kicks for field position and some very good forward work from the tight five before the backs got into the act with some strong run in midfield. This gave the outstanding loose trio the change to run free finding gaps in the Area Schools defence before setting themselves up five meters out from the Area Schools line. They kept the pressure on and Inaka Mite was rewarded 8 minutes into the game, using his power and seven other forwards to get him over the line. Tipene Toi-Anscombe kicked the conversion and the Harlequins were up 7- nil. After kick off the Harlequin team defence won the ball back and took control again placing the ball in behind the Area Schools to get a lineout ten meters from their line. The control up front from the Harlequins pack was proving difficult for the Area Schools to get their hands on the ball. The Harlequin forwards set themselves well before rolling up field looking like the Waikato team of old (Deon Muir’s era). Then at the right time they relisted the ball to the backs and 1st 5/8 Tipene Toi-Anscombe who has been a gusty little player all season showed his class and found a gap in the Area School defence to score a great try. He missed the conversion. The Area Schools then found another gear after kick off and string together some wonderful passes putting pressure on the Harlequins defence. One of the key message to come out of this season for the Harlequins team was that defence often wins games, so with that in mind the boys manned up with some big hits which turned the ball over and they made the most of it before Tipene worked his magic again dotting down beside the posts for his second of the night. He got the conversion to push the Harlequins out to a 19 nil lead. The Area Schools took the kick off well and begun to show some great forward work, pealing of rucks and using their big boys to make inroads up field. It was then the turn of the backs with some nice foot work and ball handling skills using the width of the field and turning the Harlequin boys around. The Area Schools got a scrum straight out in front after a Harlequins mistake and they made them pay though some smart play rumbling up the middle with their forward pack before sending it wide to score in the right hand corner in the 29 minute. They missed the kick but were now on the board. The Harlequins team who all year have fought back started to get on top after the kick off, stringing some wonderful passes together and sending Aaron crow away down the right hand touch line to score a brilliant try 30 seconds from half time. The conversion was missed by Tipene but the Harlequins went into half time up 24 points to 5.

Halftime Score: 24 - 5 to Harlequins
Brief summary of second half:

With 35 minutes to go in their 2012 season all the boys were keen to show what they had learnt from Head Coach Deon Muir and Assistant Coach John Carrington starting well putting pressure on in the Area Schools half. The Area Schools were not about to let the Harlequins get away like they had in the first half and fought back with some amazing control around the rucks and when the backs got their chance they didn’t disappoint stringing together some great moves to get in behind the Harlequins defence. Both teams then played a bit of ping pong with the ball going from one 22 to the other as the game slowed for the next ten minutes. The Harlequins coaching staff went to the bench to change the game up and it worked with all impact players making the most of their opportunities. Satoshi Filitonga who has been a rock in the Harlequin back line this season playing wherever he had been needed, showed his class again breaking tackle after tackle to run away and score a well deserved try. This time Liam Robinson took the conversion and was successful. The next ten minutes was filled with some great play from both sides, but slowed a little while players were replaced. The Area Schools didn’t give up and managed to pin the Harlequins down for a while in their half. Again the ball was turned over around the ruck by the Harlequins forward pack that had been doing this all season. The ball was feed to the backs and once in the hands of Dylan Samson he was able to cut though the Area Schools back line and run for away for a great try. Tipene stepped up again and nailed the conversion. The Ref looked at his watch and called time on a wonderful test match and the Harlequins season for 2012. Harlequins winning 38 points to 5.

Fulltime score: 38 - 5 to Harlequins
Try Scorers/Point Scorers: Tries: Inaka Mite (1), Tipene Toi-Anscombe (2), Aaron Crow (1), Satoshi Filitonga (1) Dylan Samson (1) Conversions: Tipene Toi-Anscombe (3), Liam Robinson (1)

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