The Classic Wallabies have been left to rue a surprise 14-7 defeat against Overseas Old Boys in their opening pool game at the Hong Kong Tens, relegated to the fight for the Bowl on day two.
Despite a dominant 43-7 victory over East Africans in their second pool match, defending champions UBB were too strong in the final match of the day as the skill of their five contracted Fijian Rugby Sevens players rose to the top.
Melbourne Rebels star Henry Hutchison scored three tries for the day while Arthur Little notched a double, but it was Sam Harris’ try under lights in the final match which really brought the crowd to their feet.
Former Brumbies star Tyrone Smith made the initial break and offloaded superbly to Hutchison, with Harris the recipient of the final pass and somehow getting across the line in the corner.“Boxy (Smith) got through with the left foot step and the big palm and somehow managed to find Hutch on the inside,” Harris explained.
“He was looking for me, but I wasn’t there, and then somehow one of their boys came out of nowhere and got to him to slow him down.
"The good thing was that it allowed me to catch up to him, and I was flying down the wing at about eight miles per hour.
“I had a bit of heat on me with a guy trying to tackle me down the sideline, but I leapt for the line in a way that felt like a rugby league winger scoring in the field of play with the rest of my body outside the field of play.
"It was probably nothing like that, but that’s how it felt to me.”
Harris is playing in his second Hong Kong Tens and he said that while the Classic Wallabies were more aware of what to expect this time around it was always going to be a challenge to fire right from the outset.
“It was similar to last year in that we struggled early as we were trying to build combinations,” he said.
“It’s to be expected when most of us haven’t played together before, but we lost the first game when we probably should have won and left ourselves too much to do against UBB when we didn’t have much in the tank.”
The Classic Wallabies are the only team in the tournament with such a smattering of veteran players, but Harris said that their expectations were high regardless.
“When you have five or so guys over 40 years of age the heat catches up on us for sure, but in saying that it’s the same for everybody else so you simply have to step up.
"The group has gelled really well over the last couple of days, and while we’ve missed the mark a little today we want to make the most of tomorrow and show our full capabilities.
“The boys are really hungry to get some silverware in the Plate section of the tournament; we will have a bit of fun and bring the crowd into it and try and keep building.”
Harris praised the Classic Wallabies concept as a great way to keep past players connected and help them with their transition out of professional careers.
“There truly is nothing that compares to the Classic Wallabies concept,” he said.
“For those who have finished playing footy, this is what they miss the most; the camaraderie, the mateship and being in the trenches with each other.
“Having a chat and getting around each other is one of the things that you miss when you’re no longer playing the game, so I’m personally really treasuring the opportunity to be back here.”