22nd Aug 2017
Harlequins completed an undefeated season with a 38-20 victory over Melbourne Unicorns in the Dewar Shield Grand Final at Box Hill on Saturday. The victory was Quins 4th premiership in five years and provided a measure of redemption for a number of players who had lost to the same opponents in last year's Grand Final by a single point.
Quins gained the early ascendancy on the back of a strong scrum, the play of Lloyd Johansson at fly half and strong running from Eli Vole and Hunter Paisami. Within ten minutes they were rewarded for that ascendancy when a cut out pass by Johansson released Jason Havea. Whilst Havea was stopped short of the line he popped the ball up for Sione Taufa to score. Unicorns responded with a penalty shortly afterwards, but Quins then took control of the half. Firstly Darren Dean scored following a series of pick and goes by the forwards, then Johansson set up Angelo Leaupepe and finally Paisami scored under the posts to make the score 26-3 at the half.
Unicorns however have shown resilience throughout the season, particularly during the finals and this trend continued in the Grand Final. In quick succession they converted an intercept and a kick charge down into tries to make the score 26-13 and bring back memories of last year's Grand Final where they had overhauled Quins in the second half. Johansson though had other ideas and proceeded to pin Unicorns in their defensive quarter with a series of well placed kicks. Eventually the pressure told and Leaupepe scored his second to take the score out to 31-13. At this point Quins looked home, but again Unicorns refused to lie down. With ten minutes left another intercept try brought the score back to 31-20 and when Leaupepe was sin binned shortly afterwards Unicorns could sniff an upset. But those hopes were quickly extinguished when an errant Unicorns line out throw was pounced on by Mahe Vailanu who burst through a number of tacklers before off loading to Maradona Farao who raced forty metres to score under the posts and secure the victory.
Johansson was voted player of the match while Vole, Leaupepe , Paisami and Vailanu also stood out in a strong team performance.
VRU Awards Night
The VRU held their award's night on 23rd August and it was a good night for the Harlequins. Though there is still one round of Junior rugby remaining, our lead in the club championship was such that we were declared the 2017 Club Champions and winners of the Cowper Shield. The Club Championship is awarded to the best performing club from Under 6 to 1st Grade in the State and is the second year in a row that the Harlequins have won the award.
The VRU Awards were also a great night for Harlequin coaches and players with eight awards won over and above the Club Championship:
|VRU Premier 1st Grade Player of the Year||Simei Kolio|
|VRU Colts Player of the Year||Manaia Koko|
|VRU Coach of the Year||Pom Simona|
|Victorian Women State Player of the Year||Ashley Masters|
|Junior Coordinator of the Year||Andrew Conor|
|Wheelchair Rugby Rising Star||Anthony Gray|
|Colts Top Points Scorer||Elliot Turner|
|Colts Top Try Scorer||Manaia Koko|
Congratulations to the winners and everyone who plays a part in the club's success; too many to mention.