Hangzhou Sino 10s tournament, Saturday 27th September 2014
Saturday 27th September saw Hangzhou Harlequins host the first leg of the Sino 10s tournament at Zhejiang University Xixi campus. They pulled out all the stops to create a great atmosphere, including a barbecue and music being played over the PA. IT had a fantastic turn out of players, fans and media alike.
The first game was Hangzhou Harlequins vs. Hangkou Eagles (Liaoning) Making their first rugby debut in china., Liaoning were very quick on the break, they had moments of brilliance let down with moments of confusion. Hangzhou seized the opportunity to keep the ball well within the pack for the most of the game resulting in three forwards tries, two by impressive prop Anton Osborne. The last second also produced a try for another new player Fred Kingdon, after severe pressure put on their centre by our President Joey Weston. The game finished 24-0
The second game was Nanjing Rockets vs. Suzhou RFC. Suzhou were a little late arriving from the bus and also a little late arriving to the game as Nanjing produced 2 tries in quick succession. Suzhou maintained a better level soon after and gained a lot of respect for the fight they put up; however Nanjing with a squad of 18 players put on fresh legs in the second half and it showed as they powered through to victory.
The third match was Wuhan Baiji vs Liaoning, a battle of the Australasia’s, with both teams plating many Pacific Islanders. Wuhan, renowned for the physicality , bullied Liaoning into mistakes leading to tries for Wuhan in both the backs and the forwards. Liaoning’s case wasn’t helped when the fly half took an injury to his leg forcing him out for the remainder of the day. Wuhan won 5 tries to 0.
Next was Shanghai RFC vs. Suzhou game, The number one seed against number 5 seed. Suzhou had moments of brilliance on the wings brought to them by players on loan from Hangzhou. The Shanghai backs were relentless on the ball and the Shanghai centre broke through the also on loan, inexperienced players on several occasions. The battle of the forwards was more of a close encounter however Shanghai finished the game off in style with the match ending by 7 tries to 0.
The last game of group 1 was Hangzhou vs. Wuhan, with Wuhan having beaten Liaoning by more tries, Hangzhou were in need of a victory to reach the final. In a game that was predominantly kept in the forwards, not many chances were made. The game really started to heat up, things were getting stronger all over the pitch with Hangzhou second row Henry Pynchon being the giver of most crowd and camera catching tackles. However the game was kept well under control by our expert referee. With time running out a scrum was forced for a knock-on on the half way line. A Hangzhou put in and a well balanced scrum, receiving the ball for our number 9 Little Henry Mwenge to side step the opposing number 9 and run the length of the pitch unchallenged for a game and league winning try. Hangzhou saw the last 30 seconds out and won the game 7-0.
The final game in group 2 was Nanjing vs. the mighty Shanghai. Shanghai being clear favourites after only needing a draw to win the group and having an impressive history of trophy wins. However it was Nanjing that broke the deadlock with an extraordinary team try. Another try each meant the game went down to who wanted it most. With the physicality in the forwards becoming an all out war, Nanjing saw the game out in what was an impressive upset to remove the tournament favourites from the final.
The 5th place playoff was then contested between Liaoning and Suzhou. Liaoning appeared to be the quicker, fitter team against Suzhou, a team seeming to be more experienced in the forwards. Again, Suzhou were borrowing some of Hangzhou’s less experienced players. The Suzhou backs stepped up to the game, and with Liaoning seeming a little leggy, Suzhou prevailed to earn 5th place and take home 6 points from the tournament.
The 3rd place playoff involved teams seeded 1 and 2 for the tournament and had it gone to plan could have easily been the final. Shanghai and Wuhan are both well known for their more physical approach rather then there dynamic wing play, produced a game that was pretty predictable. The forwards were at war all game and the Shanghai backs overcame the Wuhan backs to produce 3 tries. Giving shanghai eight points and Wuhan seven.
The Final involved two teams previously known for their drinking and average squads rather than the seriousness of a tournament final. Nevertheless, times had changed, Hangzhou and Nanjing had performed brilliantly throughout the tournament with impressive tries from all over the pitch. The first half was a battle of the forwards with Nanjing persistence resulting in a try after seven failed attempts at a dive for the line. The 32 degree heat had an effect on the players especially the Hangzhou forwards, where most of Hangzhou’s tournament tries had been produced. This turned into a benefit for Hangzhou after Anton Osborne, the Hangzhou prop, found himself out wide, ripped the ball from a ruck and passed out wide to Joey Weston. Joey then hoofed it downfield in what turned into a three man chase for the line. Two Nanjing players against the Hangzhou winger. However the Harlequin wanted it more and dived in front of the Nanjing players to level the score. His energy had somewhat disappeared though as the disappointing kick at goal came to prove. The second half came down to fitness and keeping a straight head. Both teams trying to rotate players in as frequently as possible turned into another try for Nanjing. Bad turned to worse for Hangzhou as one of their players of the tournament lost his head with the very experienced referee and got sin-binned. Nanjing took their opportunity and dived down for another try. Nanjing then saw the game out to go on to win 3 tries to 1.
The day ended with a trophy presentation and pitch side celebration for Nanjing Rockets, the deserved champions, followed by dinner and social at our sponsor bar, Vineyard. The day was a success all round thanks to all the hard work put in by the organisers. We now all eagerly anticipate the next leg in Shanghai on 18th October 2014.
Hangzhou Harlequins RFC