The start of the Premier season for 2017 kicks off on March 25th but the Harbour 7’s team showed they are already well conditioned with a clinical victory at the “Quality Building Services Pioneer RFC Festival 7’s” tournament in Gore.
Harbour drew the tougher side of the draw with the other travelling Dunedin team Seafarers, local club Excelsior, Midlands and Waikaka making up Pool A.
First up were Waikaka and the Hawks showed their potential early in the tournament with 7 converted tries to win in the end 49-0. Next up was the ‘local derby’ against the big-hitting Seafarers, with the boys in red, white & blue stepping up again to a comprehensive 32-0 victory. Excelsior was next on the list and going in to this Pool game unbeaten as well. To their credit they were the first team to put points on the board against Harbour but eventually went down 42-7 with a late burst on the scoreboard from the Hawks. The last game of the round was against Midlands who played a more ‘middle of the field’ game, which ultimately worked against the speed and width of the Harbour game plan, going down to them 39-5.
There was also an unbeaten team from Pool B, Barbarians, which is a newly formed club from Invercargill that draw the better players from a variety of country clubs together and are the current Southland Div 1 champions. They had also been winning their Pool games by similar margins so the final was set to be a cracker.
The game didn’t start to plan for the Hawks who by this stage and carrying only 11 players in their squad instead of the standard 12, were looking a little tired and worn from the earlier games with the heat factor added in. 1 player down doesn’t sound a lot but over the course of a tournament it adds up as the other players have to carry the workload.
Barbarians shot out to a 7-0 lead early in the game but Harbour didn’t flinch and worked their way back in to the game heading to the 1 minute half time break with a narrow 14-7 lead. The plucky and speedy Baba’s backline struck early again and brought the score to 14-12 with around 5 mins to play in the 2017 Final. The experience of some of the older Hawks squad members showed when interchanged and they played the smarter rugby in the end to pull away to a 28-12 win, which was a more flattering score than the actual game was in closeness.
The two stand-out players for the Harbour team throughout the tournament were James Tomkinson with his ferocious defensive and covering abilities and the playmaker Tala Fagasoaia, who sparked several tries and possessed the individual brilliance that showed why he was a member of the Otago NPC 7s team this year. Honourable mention must also be made to the rangy Logan Allen who had a terrific day with the boot, landing numerous conversions from out wide on the tramlines and also showed a good turn of foot when given the opportunity. The ever-green Hale T-Pole, fresh off a 20 hour flight from England, controlled the game well when he came on and showed classy touches.
There is a pre-season game scheduled against Varsity at the Port Chalmers ground on Saturday March 11.
The Dunedin Premier Rugby season itself, kicks off for Harbour on Saturday 25th March with a home game at Watson Park against Southern then a midweek Wednesday game on the 29th also on the home track against Taieri.
Reporter – Capt. B.F. Pierce