Hawks look forward to Fox next year
A gym is the new priority for the Mangere East Hawks rugby league club.
It rocketed from the bottom of the club's wish list to the top when they won their way back into the Fox Memorial Trophy competition last Saturday.
They earned their premier stripes by beating neighbours and minor premiers the Papatoetoe Panthers 24-16 in the Sharman Cup grand final at Trusts Stadium in Waitakere.
The victory was well received by the Mangere East faithful who haven't had a Fox side to cheer on since 2008.
But for coach Keith Hanley the promotion will come at a price.
"We're going to need a gym and we're going to have to find one fast," he says.
"Either we set up at the club or come to an arrangement with a third party because our players need to be properly conditioned if they are to be competitive in the Fox."
Hanley says many of his charges are fresh out of school and will need weight training to help them withstand the rigours of playing premier football.
He has the core of a good team and he expects they will be competitive with the addition of a few more players.
It was Hanley's first Sharman Cup win and it was pretty special because he did it in his first year with the Hawks.
The former Auckland Rugby League development officer was with the Otara Scorpions for two years before he moved to Mangere East.
The Panthers were crushed by their defeat.
Coach John Shepherd says they put a lot of effort into winning the Sharman and promotion to the Fox but it wasn't to be.
"It's disappointing but we were beaten by a better side," he says. "We knew it was going to be all about defence and knew that if we could hold them out in the first half we'd have a shot.
"But we struggled to contain them in the first 40 minutes and they got away on us. They wanted it more than we did in that first half."
But Shepherd is promising the Panthers will back.
Palu Tapaevalu, a wing who recently converted to a prop, was a stand-out for the Panthers.
He never stopped trying and was always the first to put his hand up for a carry.
The Hawks were better on the day because more than one player took the field with fire in their bellies.
Centre Jeco Makatoa was named man of the match but there were others who were just as prominent.
Loose forward Tuahu Waretini Thomas tackled himself to a standstill, props Johnathan Ofanoa and Mark Sopoaga were as willing in their carries as they were on defence and Amos Rimoni was a wrecking ball whenever he came off the bench.
The Hawks had the game won by halftime. They led 24-4 at the break and forced the Panthers to play catch-up footy.
The Hawks will replace the Manurewa Marlins in the Fox competition. It was deja vu for both clubs because when the Hawks were demoted to the Sharman Cup in 2007, it was the Marlins who replaced them in the Fox.
The Mangere East Hawks:
Viliame Kaveninga, Francis Casa Toetu, Jeco Makatoa, Lui Tia, Fine Faininga'a, James Dowie, Eko Malu, Johnathan Christopher Ofanoa, Afatasi Lio, Mark Sopoaga, Stedman Lefau, Albert Short (captain), Tuahu Thomas, Zion Tesese, Ben Fukafuka, Fesilafai Sopoago, Jahsaiya Edmonds, Amos Rimoni, Keith Hanley (coach) Dave Pearce/Eseta Leolahi (managers) Brent Denny/Lloyd Leach (trainers) Rory Finnermore (physio).
The Papatoetoe Panthers:
Peti Tuafao, Kali Makasini, Ken Maumalo, Grahame Vite, Sosaia Tautalonoa, Etuati Togiatomai, Bruce Ligaliga, Tony Ulupoao, Leiloa Lafaele (captain), Palu Tapaevalu, Sifa Lolahea, Mike Milford, Poasi Lauteau, Mathew Halilip, Gordy Albert, Lafaele Talosaga, Seu Tukuniu, Sefita Aulika, John Shepherd/Rod Ratu (coaches), Carl Davis (manager) Herb Whiri (trainer).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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