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HONG KONG – In a rematch of the 2013 finalists, Penguins again prevailed, beating Samurai 5-0 with a try in the second period of extra-time, to win one of the most physically draining Cup finals ever seen at the GFI HKFC 10s.
After over 30 minutes of scoreless 10-a-side action, Waikato flanker Josh Tyrell picked up a loose ball following a lineout near the Samurai line and powered over in the second five-minute period of extra-time, following two 12-minute halves where both teams cancelled each other out.
In a redeux of the 2013 final that Penguins won with a late end-to-end try at Hong Kong Football Club, the historic UK-based touring club prevailed again and prolonged the heartbreak for Samurai, who have now lost in three finals in 10 appearances at the GFI HKFC 10s.
Scott Waldrom, who was capped by the All Blacks, co-coached the third seeds with long-time Penguin playmaker Willie Walker, who moved into a coaching role after competing in last year’s GFI HKFC 10s.
“I’m just really proud of the boys,” Waldrom said. “We went from one metre from our own goal line to come all the way down the other end to score in some pretty tough conditions. There will be some pretty tired boys out there.
“It was such a stalemate because you had two very similar teams. We both had some good front-rowers, some solid locks and some good bench, so it was much of a much and that’s probably why the game went on so long.”
Walker added: “Antonio [Kiri Kiri], our captain, came off and said that was the hardest game he had ever played, with two extra-times, and he’s probably right. We had 14 players after we lost a couple. They also lost a couple. Both teams were battling out there and it was a good, tough final.”
Kiri Kiri, a contracted New Zealand Sevens player, co-captained the Penguins with former All Blacks Sevens player Kylem O’Donnell and admitted he was physically and emotionally drained after a final that left most players on their knees.
“I’m pretty blown away. I’m a bit lost for words. It was one of those games where it was down to who would be the first to make a mistake and they lost their own line-out. I’m just happy it wasn’t us,” said Kiri Kiri, who made his Sevens World Series debut in South Africa last December.
“I’ve never played a game like that before, a double extra-time. I’m not used to that. I’m buggered. It has been a tough two days, but I’m sure I’ll find some energy later on. The co-captains and co-coaches seemed to work. Kylem’s an outstanding player and was a real leader on the pitch.”
Kiri Kiri agreed with Waldrom that the two teams were evenly matched in many ways. “The Samurai boys matched us physically and we felt it out there. We’ve sort of had our way with other teams, but with them, they gave it back. Hats off to those guys. They were pretty outstanding athletes.”
With 2015 Super Bowl champion Nate Ebner in their ranks, the fourth-seeded Samurai upset top seeds BGC Asia Pacific Dragons 12-0 in the semi-finals, while Penguins beat Tradition YCAC 29-14, the quartet underlining their reputation as the tournament’s current ‘big four’.
Former New Zealand Sevens player Zar Lawrence led 12th seeds A-Trade Overseas Old Boys to victory in the second-tier Plate final, beating Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles 17-10.
Fifth seeds Kir Club Pyrenees won the Bowl in their ninth straight year at the GFI HKFC 10s, beating UBB Gavekal 22-5, while hosts Natixis HKFC won the Shield by beating debutantes CRFA Gladiators from China 28-19.
All Results: http://www.hongkongtens.com/match.php?cid=1
Make-A-Wish Hong Kong was this year’s official charity and received a cheque for HK$106,080 from Lisa Foley, Chairman of the HKFC 10s Organising Committee.
Renowned as the world’s best annual 10-a-side tournament, the GFI HKFC 10s has long attracted the game’s top players including seven of the New Zealand team who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino, Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Sam Cane and Charlie Faumuina.
Along with GFI, other sponsors in 2016 include Allied World, Natixis and Rugby Pass (gold sponsors), DHL, Q-Net, Swire Properties and Withers (silver), Cashmaster, CBRE, CPA Global, EY, Markel, Structure Tone and Tricor (bronze), Pure Blonde (official beer), Highland Spring (official water) and Tsunami (official apparel).
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Photo credits: Power Sport Images for HKFC.
About GFI HKFC 10s
Hong Kong Football Club has hosted the 10s every year since it was first staged in 1986 to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary. Now in its 31st year, the GFI HKFC 10s is held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens and is also sanctioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU). GFI Group, a leading provider of brokerage services and trading support products, has title sponsored the event since 2006. The tournament traditionally attracts many stars of the game, including seven of the New Zealand squad that won the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In the past decade, the tournament has featured Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima and Israel Dagg (2008), Bob Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi, Beauden Barrett and Sam Cane (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Justin Marshall (2011, 2012), Mils Muliaina (2012), Marty Holah and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013), George Smith, Alesana Tuilagi and Rupeni Caucaunibuca (2014), Todd Clever (2012, 2013, 2015) and Rico Gear (2011, 2013, 2015). Website: www.hongkongtens.com
About GFI Group Inc.
Founded in New York in 1987 and acquired by BGC Partners in 2015, GFI Group Inc (GFI) provides competitive wholesale market brokerage services in a multitude of global over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange listed cash and derivatives markets. Over more than 25 years, GFI has expanded both organically and through acquisitions into a broad range of markets, including fixed income derivatives, cash fixed income, emerging market financial products, energy and commodity derivatives, and equities. GFI employs more than 2,100 people with additional offices in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Cape Town, Santiago, Bogota, Lima, Dubai, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Calgary, Los Angeles and Sugar Land (TX). GFI provides services and products to over 2,600 institutional clients, including leading investment and commercial banks, corporations, insurance companies and hedge funds. Its brands include GFISM, GFInet®, CreditMatch®, GFI ForexMatch®, EnergyMatch®, FENICS®, Starsupply® and Amerex®. Website: www.gfigroup.com
About Make-A-Wish Hong Kong
Make-A-Wish Hong Kong was founded in 1989. It was registered as a charity in Hong Kong in 1998 (registration number: 91/5366) and became a member of Make-A-Wish Foundation International, which has its headquarters in the USA. We are the world’s largest wish-granting organization and have 39 affiliates serving over 50 countries and territories. Collectively we have realized 350,000 children’s wishes worldwide since 1980, on average one wish completed every 21 minutes. Make-A-Wish Hong Kong grants one special wish to children aged between three and 17 with life-threatening medical conditions, in Hong Kong and Macau, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. To date, we have granted over 1,600 wishes. We are dedicated to making every eligible child’s wish come true. Website: www.makeawish.org.hk; Facebook: www.facebook.com/MakeAWishHK; Instagram: www.instagram.com/makeawishhk