Sydney Harlequins won 2 out of 3 in 2021’s Division 3 opener against Blacktown on Saturday. We spoke to all 3 captains who reported on a successful, if not nervous day at Waterloo Oval.
Tom Neilsen, 3rd Grade:
“A scintillating 40m run from lock Niall Fry off the kick-off was unfortunately not a sign of things to come in the 3rd grade match against the big boys from Blacktown. Running out with a lot of new faces and no front row reinforcements, 3s defended staunchly but lacked cohesion with the ball.
At 0-0 deep in the 2nd half, we always threatened to prevail, but two late tries saw Blacktown get home 14-0. Special mentions must go to: #2 Will Riley put in a tireless, full shift at both prop and hooker; #7 Sir Charles Gray, whose piercing blue headgear is only outshone by his piercing blue eyes, put that headgear into dark places when he moved into hooker in contested scrums (for the first and last time he tells me) to avoid having to lose a player from the field; #17 Steve Legg, despite having more niggles than a 2nd hand BMW, went into the front row when there was nobody else; and All the outside backs whose minutes were limited and touches of the ball scarce – thank you for your patience. The depth and competition for spots in the backline will be an asset for the whole club this season.”
Tom Pacy, 2nd Grade:
The season started well for Harlequins 2nd grade with a rambunctious return to form.
Meli Tagiwasa opened the scoring, touching down for a birthday try. Promising young halfback Richie Garrett promptly converted. Blacktown quickly responded by bringing on a 16th man and scoring in front of the home crowd, who had somehow managed to count up to 16 and politely alerted the officials.
Front row legend and Harlequins pin-up Shaun Collins bagged a bit of meat next from the back of a well worked driving maul. The conversion sailed through and we could feel a bit of momentum swinging our way.
An Impressive carry from the young and able sea-man; Connor Hoban saw him go barreling over Blacktown’s smallest player for his first try. His hopeful skippers calls to pass to him fell on deaf ears.
At the start of the second half a scithing run from Seamus Humphreys cut through the Blacktown defence, like a hot knife through butter, and under the sticks he went. The second half also saw Connor complete his hat-trick with aplomb as well as some excellent interlinking play between the backs and strong carries from the piggies. The bench brought some much needed energy with 10-15 to go.
Blacktown struck the final blow after some questionable officiating and around 35 second half scrums, but it was too little too late. Quins win it 38-12.
Wings and jugs followed at the Glenroy, which was a welcome change of venue.
Alex Koerber, 1st Grade:
Round One – a sunny Waterloo Oval and a handful of debutants for Sydney Harlequins first grade side – what a day it was going to be. With some back and forth rugby for the first period of the game, it was the young replacement blindside flanker, Darcy Fraser who was able to snatch up a loose ball from Blacktown’s lineout and get the Quin’s on the board. In typical Blacktown fashion, the opponents proved to be strong ball runners and tested the Harlequins defence, edging ahead with a converted try. The response from the Harlequin’s was positive – with the Harlequin’s scrum beginning to show signs of dominance, combined with some consistent phase play and some sensational return carries from Matt Carroll, allowing Alex Koerber to poke his head through at the stroke of half time to put the Harlequins in front at the break.
The opponents were quick to get onto the board in the second half – but it was the electric, ‘no fear’ attitude shown by Kurtis Bierhuizen that got the Quinnies buzzing ahead, showing his speed – simply burning the opposite winger. Blacktown remained persistent, and were able to keep up with the scoring.
But it was the mighty Harlequin’s forward pack that turned the screws when it counted and simply took control of the game. Special mention to our two UK Ox-like props Andy Pettler & Scott Strachan, proving far too experienced and strong for their opposing numbers. The stallion, Adam Packer, hanging off the coat tails of his dominant tight five, treated himself to one of the easier five pointers he has scored for the club. Despite leaving it to the last minutes of the game, the Harlequins were able to secure the win through a penalty try, again thank you to our unbelievable scrummaging. Not the most polished win, but some very good signs round one and great to steal the win at home for our loyal and enthusiastic crowd. Congratulations to our 1st Grade Harlequins Debutants – Jamie Beighton, Daniel Callaghan, Kurtis Bierhuizen & Lachlan Mckenzie – and to James Archer for making it through 80 minutes of rugby.