The New Zealand Hawks have acquitted themselves well against highly skilled and strong opposition at the South Pacific Cup.
While the results may not have gone the way of the Hawks, there was plenty of promise shown by the players to excite the New Zealand coaching staff.
In the first game of the tournament, the Hawks came up against the Papua New Guinea Binatangs, who are renowned for their speed and agility. The Binatangs took the match 6.1:37 – 0.1:0.
Amid the loss though there were many Hawks players who stood tall. Christian Blackie of Otago was awarded the Best and Fairest Medal.
Among the other players recognised were Kalib Lewis, Te Kopa Tipene Thomas, Nathan Curran, Te Rei Clark, Carlos Donnell Brown and Jack Matheson.
Their second game against Oceania was a difficult one, due to injuries leaving the team short on rotation strength. Mick Coultard was impressed by the heart shown by his players, who “dug deep and put together a lot of great plays.” The final score was 6.3:39 – 0.2:2 to Oceania.
Jack Matheson was again noticed, this time taking the Best and Fairest Medal for the match. The other nominations for the award went to Jirah Momoisea, Carlos Donnell-Brown, Willem Van Der Wilt, Christian-Jordan Tupou, Viance Vano and Nathan Curran.
The third match saw the Hawks saw the Hawks improve in many areas of their game. Playing Oceania for the 2nd time, the New Zealand Hawks midfield stepped up their defensive and tackling pressure admirably, in particular through Te Kopa Tipe-Thomas, Kalib Lewis and Christian Blackie.
This match also saw the Hawks register goals for the first time in the competition, coming through the boots of Brayden Herewini and Christian Blackie.
Nathan Curran showed he had developed his game further than his duties as a ruckman, and was a major impact on the match. Francis Pedersen and Naitoa Ah Kuoi took some spectacular marks in the forward line.
The Best and Fairest for this match went to James Watkins, one of the smallest players on the field, for incredible commitment to the contact area and winning considerable amounts of possession.
Other honourable mentions went to Utusa’itoa Ah Kuoi, Christian-Jordan Tupou, Viance Vano and Carlos Donnell-Brown, who were among the players recognised by Mick Coultard as being among the Best on Ground.
The final score was a win for Oceania, 10.10:70 – 2.3:15.