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Back to back Capital Bowl Champions

posted Mar 8, 2012, 3:31 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Mar 8, 2012, 3:33 PM ]

The season finale had arrived and it was a repeat of last year’s Capital Bowl with the undefeated Hutt Valley Spartans taking on the Wellington Wolves. Last year it was the Wolves who came into the final as favourites with an unbeaten record, but the Spartans really turned it on that day and came away with a 34-8 victory and the second title in the clubs history. Two years ago the Spartans had made the final against the North City Knights after completing an unbeaten regular season. They lost by a large margin in that game and the players that were there that day had a point to prove, and a perfect season to finish off.

The home team Spartans won the toss and chose to receive, and after a solid return by rookie WR Chris Matsopoulos, the offence got straight to work. Veteran running back Ese Amosa got things started with a 20 yard run that would set the tone for the whole game. Amosa had four rushes that went for more than 15 yards on the day as well as almost ten first downs that kept the chains moving all day and the Wolves offence off the field. The opening drive was helped by a big pass interference penalty that got the Spartans deep into opposition territory, but a couple of costly penalties caused the drive to stall at the Wolves 18 yard line when Quarterback  Jonny Connor couldn’t connect with Jed Peniata on a fourth down pass.

The Spartans defence had four shutouts during the regular season and were a huge reason for their six straight wins, so they were looking to assert their dominance when they stepped on the field for the first time in the game. Alex wood led the way on the first play when he brought the Wolves running back down for a five yard loss. Vena Kalepo bested that a few plays later when he first tackled the running back for a loss and then got to the Quarterback after an errant snap. This forced the Wolves to punt and with the ball back in their possession just short of half way, the Spartans went back to Amosa to start off another drive and he came through with an 18 yard bruising run to get them into Wolves territory for the second drive in a row. Amosa was leaving Wolves defenders lying in his wake with every punishing run and when slot back Scott Thomson made his first reception of the game down the right sideline, the Spartans were five yards away from the first touchdown of the day when the refs blew the whistle for the end of a quick first quarter.

The small break in play gave the Spartans enough time to come up with the right play on the sidelines and it was Connor who ran it to the left on an option play before tucking it under his wing and driving over the goal line behind the offensive line that had been so crucial to the team’s success all year long. It was his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks and was his second Capital Bowl touchdown after scoring the game clinching touchdown in last year’s final when he returned an interception about 40 yards for the score. They failed on the two point conversion which was a trend that continued throughout the game as they wouldn’t get any extra points all day long.

The ball was kicked back to the Wolves and they started their next drive in nice fashion, completing a few passes and getting a couple of first downs to get near half way. They went to the well once too often with their pass plays though. As the quarterback dropped back, rookie defensive lineman Jaqob Meafou busted straight through the O line and hit him as he was throwing. The ball floated up and fell straight into the waiting arms of Wood who was close to getting a sack himself. With no one in front of him he took off towards the end zone and never looked back. The only footsteps thundering behind him were those of his team mates who ensured an easy sprint in for the touchdown to put the home team up 12-0.

When the Wolves got the ball back on the next kickoff, they mounted a fantastic drive to try and get themselves back into the game. They had a good balance of run and pass and their receivers in particular made some very good plays that got them all the way down to the Spartan 2 yard line with four downs left to get across the goal line. This would end up being a massive moment in the game as the defence would stand up and protect their line in dominant fashion. Three runs were all stuffed and the offence still had half a yard to go to get their first points on the board. On fourth and goal the Wolves quarterback rolled out to his right looking for an open receiver in the end zone but Spartans safety, Chris Toms chased him down from the backside for the sack and he fumbled the ball out of bounds for the turnover. The sideline went up together after such an impressive goal line stand as the offence went back out on the field. They were soon forced to punt and the Wolves had one last chance to get some points before half time. They ran a few plays and got a first down but with only seconds left on the clock, they tried a trick play with a toss to the running back on a sweep who then turned to throw the ball back to the quarterback who had leaked through the defence to the opposite side of the field. As the ball sailed through the air, it looked like they might get something positive out of the play. But just as the QB went up to make the catch, linebacker Jed Peniata who had read the play perfectly, leapt in front of him with perfect timing to make the intercept. With no one in front of him he strolled in for the touchdown all the way from the Wolves’ 46 yard line. As the defence celebrated their second defensive touchdown in the end zone, all the players slowly became aware of the yellow penalty flag lying on the ground way back down the field. The Spartans had made their first big mistake of the game during the return. At the start of the return one of the Wolves defenders was hit with a big block and was then taunted by one of the Spartans. That small disciplinary indiscretion was extremely costly as it happened before the touchdown had been scored. The penalty negated the touchdown but the Spartans did retain possession, but with no time left in the half, it was a big mistake that took some easy points off the board.

The Wolves would receive the opening second half kickoff and embarked on a long time consuming drive that would end fruitlessly with a shot downfield on a long fourth down conversion attempt. With the Spartans offences first chance in the second half they went straight back to what had worked in the first. Amosa got the drive started perfectly with three runs for 30 yards and had the ball out to mid field. A couple of penalties would then drive them back to their own 35 yard line before Connor, with all the time in the world, stepped up in the pocket and threw a long pass down the right sideline that dropped in perfectly between the cornerback and safety. Wide receiver Colin Leilua-Toilolo rose up between them to make the catch before quickly side stepping the safety and running in for the 65 yard touchdown to put the Hutt Valley team up 18 points to nil.

After a short kickoff the Wolves had great field position near half way, but down 18 points and with time running out in the third quarter, they were in a position where they needed to try and pass the ball to get a quick score. This gave the defence a strategic advantage and they used it to full effect when Wood dropped back and got his hand on a pass intended for the tight end and the ball bounced up and went straight to his fellow linebacker Daniel Kendall who returned the ball 20 yards before being pushed out of bounds at Wolves 40 yard line. The solid defence continued from both teams as two punts were forced to end the third quarter. The teams turned around and the Spartans were starting to lose the field position battle. They were in a bit of a hole and were forced to punt again with the ball on their own 10 yard line. With both teams starting to tire due to the intensity that only a finals game can provide, there was some lethargic blocking from the Spartans and the punt was blocked into the end zone and fallen on by the defence for their first points in the game. Their two point conversion was also unsuccessful so the score was 18-6 with about ten minutes to go.  

The offences for both teams were having differing fortunes with the Spartans starting to struggle with their execution and the Wolves moving the ball down the field very well as they tried desperately to get back into this game. That all came to a halt however when Spartan rookie Mark Tanu got some great pressure up the middle from his nose tackle position. The quarterback was in his grasp when he lofted a pass down the middle of the field. Once again it was tipped up in the air by a Spartan defender and this time it was Toms who was the benefactor and he would make the Wolves pay for their fourth turnover of the day by running the pick back 80 yards on a long weaving return from one side of the field to the other for the second pick six of the afternoon. The Wolves were forced to punt again on their next possession and Toms was back to field the kick. He had another fantastic 80 yard return similar to his first for his second consecutive touchdown, but back where he fielded the ball was yet another penalty flag. This time it was for an illegal block in the back and the Spartans let another score go begging due to poor discipline.

They would retain possession however and with the ball deep in their own red zone, running down the clock with running plays was the order of the day. During their attempt at this however, the Wolves snuck into the back field and got amongst the handoff to the running back and forced their first turnover on the day. Unfortunately they couldn’t do anything with it and the Spartans would get another chance to milk the clock and end the game. Once again though, to end a messy fourth quarter for the offence, they turned the ball over on an intercept and gave the Wolves a chance to finish the game on a high note with the win well out of reach at this point. It was the Spartan defence who quite fittingly finished off the game on the highest of notes as another rookie lineman William Oloapu recovered a fumble to get their fifth turnover of the day and end the game with a 24-6 victory.  This was their second consecutive title and was the first time in the clubs history that they had a perfect unbeaten season. Outstanding full back Ese Amosa was named the Capital Bowl MVP with 154 yards rushing. He kept the chains moving all day and made things easy for his offence to do what they needed to do to get the win. The entire defence was the other star of the show as the team failed to hold on to the shut out, but the defence did not allow an offensive score for the fifth time this season. What a fantastic end to a fantastic season for the Hutt Valley Spartans. Great to see a lot of new players making big contributions as well as the usual suspects doing what they do for yet another season. Congratulations to everyone involved with the club and we hope to see you all back again next season.   

Spartans just short of breaking AFW record

posted Mar 6, 2012, 1:07 AM by ian vena   [ updated May 2, 2013, 4:03 PM ]

The final game of the AFW (American Football Wellington) regular season came to end with the Hutt Valley Spartans winning a whopping 68-0. The Porirua Giants were playing with limited numbers and were forced to play Ironman most of the game. Though their numbers were few they had heart to fight through the 4 quarters with pride.

Offensive MVP goes to Jonathan Connor with 7 TD's and 1 rushing TD. Defensive MVP goes to Chris Toms with 3 picks, the Spartan ball Hawk.

Running back Ese Amosa almost took it to the house to surpass the record with a screen pass, breaking tackles left right and centre but fell short inches away from glory as time expired with no timeouts.

Spartans go 6-0 with a perfect season & we look forward to the finals vs the Wellington Wolves.

Rusty Spartans escape with a close win against the Wolves

posted Jan 31, 2012, 11:47 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Mar 6, 2012, 1:12 AM by ian vena ]

Rust showed on the Spartans offence as they failed to convert third downs time after time. Spartans defense however was still showing a strong shield, protecting their red-zone throughout the game.

Constant pressure on the Wolves offence saw a play broken up by Spartans stingy defense, forcing the Wolves back into their red-zone for a safety.

With the Spartans up 2-0 and minutes left in the game, the Wolves began what would be the longest 2 minute drill of the season. The Wolves QB was able to land several short passes and used his quick feet on various plays to get them within the Spartans territory. With no timeouts left, wolves were left with no other option but to pass into the end-zone. Spartans DB’s were able to break up what could’ve been a touchdown ending the game with the Spartans on top.

A very close game and we expect coach Lambert to get the Spartans back into shape from their worst performance offensively this season. The Spartans go 5-0 and have one game left for the post season against the Porirua Giants.

Spartans go 4-0, with a comeback victory

posted Jan 24, 2012, 11:02 AM by ian vena   [ updated Mar 6, 2012, 1:30 AM ]

For the first time, Spartans were trailing this season in the first half down 14-12 to the Porirua Giants. Spartans offensive line was heavily depleted and rookies Henry & Stephen stepped up. Though they didnt quite know that tackling a defender was not allowed, Connor was given enough time in the pocket to make some plays to various receivers Jedidiah Peniata (#8), Scotty Thomson (#19) & Chris Toms (#20). 

The same O-Line provided running room for veteran RB Ese Amosa (#28) and Rookie Joey Vaigafa Waihana (#44) to make big plays. Another big mention would be player/coach Nate Lambert who had to shake off some of the cob webs and play the most critical position of the team "CENTRE".
We finish the season on a high going 4-0, and look forward to the well deserved Christmas break.

Spartans secure their spot in the AFW Finals

posted Dec 5, 2011, 5:01 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Mar 6, 2012, 1:51 AM by ian vena ]

Week five of the AFW season was the second match up of the season between the Hutt Valley Spartans and the Wellington Wolves. The Spartans won in week two by twenty points to nil and the Wolves were looking to gain a bit of momentum as well as revenge after they had beaten the Porirua Giants the week before to get their first win of the year. Their first meeting was a wet rainy affair but for this game it was a beautifully fine, scorching hot day and the scene was set for an afternoon of exciting football.

The Wolves won the toss and chose to receive and from the outset it was plain to see that they were going to give the home team a real run for their money. They came out firing and with a good mix of running and passing they put the Spartan defence under a lot of pressure. They were eventually stopped but not before putting a scare in the defending champions. The Spartan offence came out looking to impress, but they were held to a three and out so they punted it away to give the Wolves fairly good field position. They took over and continued on how they had started but this time they finished the drive off with a short touchdown run and after a failed two point conversion they were up six points to nil and had put the Spartans behind on the scoreboard for the first time all season. 

The offence started with a short field as the Wolves kick off only made it as far as the half way line. Rookie Joe Oloapu was making his first start at Fullback and he started out a little shaky as he fumbled the ball on the first play of the drive but luckily managed to fall on it to keep possession. He soon made up for this though with a fantastic 18 yard run for a first down, which seemed to kick-start the offence. Daniel Kendall came in for a few runs and gained 30 quick yards as the Offensive line started to dominate in the middle of the field. He capped off the drive by running in untouched for a 6-yard touchdown to tie the scores up at 6. A great kickoff by Bevan Wood forced the Wolves deep in their own territory and after the defence stepped up to force a three and out, Linebacker Henry Tauti had the ball bounce his way on the ensuing punt. He made an amazing return down the left sideline before being tripped up inside the Wolves red zone. A couple of penalties forced them back out to the 35 yard line, but Bevan who was filling in for a few plays at Wide Receiver made a great catch down the right sideline on a perfectly thrown pass by Jonny Connor. This gave the Spartans a first and goal from the 4-yard line. After Oloapu was stuffed for no gain on a run up the middle, Connor found Slot Back Jed Peniata wide open and he strolled in for the touchdown. A second failed two point try left the score at 12 – 6 with the momentum back in the hands of the Spartans.

The Wolves came out firing on offence and looked to have gotten back in the rhythm that they had to start the game, but just as they got past halfway, an errant snap was dived upon by rookie defensive lineman Steve Aigaga for the first turnover of the game. The next drive was riddled with penalties and the Spartans ended up turning the ball over on downs near halfway. Then the Wolves did exactly the same thing as Kendall knocked down a fourth down pass. With halftime almost upon them, Connor took a shot down the left sideline to Colin Leilua-Toilolo who was in double coverage but rose up between the defenders to pull down the pass before spinning out of their attempted tackles and running into the end zone. The Spartan sideline erupted as he came down with the amazing catch and then went up again as he crossed the goal line, but the sideline official saw him step out at the 1 yard line so Connor threw the ball to his other Slot Back Scott Thomson on the very next play for his second touchdown pass of the half. Yet another failed two point conversion and a couple of incomplete passes by the Wolves later and it was half time with the Spartans leading by 18 – 6.

The Hutt Valley team hadn’t scored a second half point all season and this was the main topic of discussion during the interval. It was incredibly important for the team to come out aggressive in the third quarter and take the Wellington men out of the game early. The Spartans were missing four of their usual starting offensive linemen for this game and were fielding a much smaller line than they had in the first two games. This hadn’t had any negative effect on the offensive production however and the opening drive of the second half was arguably their best work of the day. Oloapu and Kendall shared the load with the highlight being a 30-yard sidestepping run from Oloapu that showed shades of Barry Sanders as he was shaking defenders out of their boots before being bought down just over 20 yards out from the goal line. Kendall got his second touchdown of the day as he bounced out to the left and snuck the ball inside the goal line pylon before being pushed into touch on a 12-yard dash. Connor finally hooked up with Colin on the extra point try after two previous incomplete passes to the young wide out to extend the lead to 20 points. The following two Wolves drives were where the Spartans really grabbed the game by the throat and dashed any hopes that were left of the visitors getting a much needed victory. Alex Wood made a big play on the first drive when he tipped a low pass straight into the hands of Peniata who went on a patient, searching run before finding some open pasture and sprinting in for his second touchdown. The following drive it was Middle Linebacker Joe Heredia who played provider when he tipped another errant throw and Safety Chris Toms swooped on the pick and returned it 47 yards behind a convoy of blockers for the third Spartan touchdown in about four minutes. Both extra point conversions came up short but the Spartans had now scored 38 unanswered points and taken a commanding lead.

The fourth quarter was a very messy affair highlighted by penalties and a spirited comeback by the Wolves. Being down by a big margin on the scoreboard would have seen a lot of teams lay down and give up, but the Wolves continued to play with intensity and aggression and their attitude paid off when a short Connor pass was picked off and returned 10 yards for the third pick six of the day. The Spartans were getting frustrated with their own play and some of the officiating calls and dug themselves into a couple of silly field position holes with some ill discipline on and off the field. They were driving themselves backwards and the Wolves took full advantage of their poor discipline when Bevan was backed up at the back of end zone trying to punt. They got through and blocked the punt that bounced around to the front of the end zone before being dived on for the second straight touchdown by the defence.

The score was now 38 – 20 and the momentum had all shifted towards the Wellington team. Their offence decided they wanted to get in on the act and spread things out a bit for their new quarterback. They made a few nice completions to keep the chains moving before a roll out to the left found a receiver out running the defence in the back corner of the end zone. They scored again and with another conversion to follow were within 10 points and had some people on the Spartan sideline starting to worry. The Spartans regrouped on their next drive though and got back to the disciplined football that had got them in front to begin with. With a perfect display of power running the Offensive line was opening up huge holes and Oloapu was running as hard as he was in the first quarter. Taking the majority of the carries on the drive, he ran with speed and agility and put the final nail in the coffin with a well deserved 7-yard touchdown on another run that left defenders wondering where his fast feet were taking him. Connor finished things off with a pinpoint pass to Thomson for the extra point conversion to give the final score of 46 – 28.

In one of the highest scoring games ever seen in Wellington, the Hutt Valley Spartans came out on top and kept their perfect record intact at 3-0. With this win they moved two games ahead of the Wolves and with the Wolves only having two games left on their schedule and the Spartans owning the tie breaker, they have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Capital Bowl. Congratulations to offensive player of the day Joe Oloapu who ran with poise and purpose on his way to 123 yards and 1 touchdown. It was a fantastic display from Joe in his first game at running back and he has set the bar very high for himself. On Defence the award went to Inside Linebacker Henry Tauti, who made several crucial stops to end Wolves drives and was a force around the field. He even managed to fit in time for a punt return and a kickoff return to show just what a balanced player he is becoming.

Next up for the Spartans is a Porirua Giants team who are playing to get ahead of the Wolves on the ladder. Their last match up was a 14 nil win to the Spartans and they will be looking to cement their dominance of the league so far this season.

Spartans go 2-0 against the Porirua Giants

posted Nov 21, 2011, 2:57 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Nov 21, 2011, 10:08 PM by ian vena ]

Week three of the 2011-12 season was a match up to decide who would stand top of the table after one complete round of matches. Both teams had beaten the Wellington Wolves and were looking for a big game to get an early head start toward making the Capital Bowl. It was a fine but windy day and after a short delay to the kickoff, the Spartans won the toss and chose to receive. After a short kick return by Scott Thomson, Ese Amosa picked up where he left off against the Wolves the week before with some dominant runs to kickstart the team. The Spartans opening drive stalled though as a third down pass was deflected off Wide Receiver Colin Leilua-Toilolo’s hands and straight into the waiting arms of one of the Giants Linebackers. The Giants started off showing their intentions toward winning this game with a long run right through the teeth of the Spartan defence. This defensive lapse seemed to spark the Spartans into action and they got straight back to being the disciplined defensive team that shut out the Wolves the week before. An early sack by Ian Vena helped shut down the Giants opening drive and got the ball back in the offences hands. This time all of Amosa’s efforts bore some fruit as a solid drive ended with the big Fullback running into the end zone on a tough run for his third touchdown of the season to open the scoring. As he did last week, he followed his score up with a blockbusting run up the middle for the two point conversion to put the Spartans ahead 8 points to nil.
The defence went back to work on the ensuing possession and were really starting to dominate their opposition. After getting his team’s only interception in his debut game against the Wolves, Linebacker Ina Sione soon got his second turnover of the season when he recovered a fumble after Ian Vena knocked the ball loose. This change of possession occurred near halfway so the Spartans were in great field position to add to their lead. They found themselves immediately deep in the red zone courtesy of a long catch and run from Colin Leilua-Toilolo who made a great catch on a well thrown ball from Quarterback Jonny Connor. Ian Vena followed that up with a few tough runs to get the team close to the goal line before Amosa came back in to score his second touchdown as he ran in almost untouched on a short run and give his side a 14 point advantage. The two point conversion was unsuccessful and this was the way the score would stay as the half time whistle blew and both teams went away to discuss what had happened and come up with their second half game plans.
For the Spartans it was to come out and start the new half with renewed aggression but to stick with what had worked in the first half. The defence had been extremely dominant and the fact that they were going so well on that side of the ball meant that the offence could take a few more chances to increase their lead. With the weather remaining fine, there were no excuses for the Spartans not to put some more points on the board and put the Giants away early when they got back on the field.
The Spartan captains went out on the field to choose which direction they would be kicking off and came off the field with puzzled looks on their faces as the Giants bizarrely choose to kickoff again and give possession immediately back to the Hutt Valley team. The offence got their chance to put the game away early with good field position after the kick return, but they seemed to be a bit out of sync as there was a fumbled snap and then Connor threw his second interception of the day. As they had done all day, the defence came out and pressured the Giants, and they immediately caused another fumble that was again recovered by Sione. This time the offence marched down field on an impressive drive that was highlighted by a beautiful one handed catch by Slotback Jed Peniata that gave the Spartans a first and goal from the five yard line. Ian Vena had a couple of runs that left the ball about half a yard shy of another 6 points and Amosa was sent back in to finish the job and put the game away. He never got the chance though as the centre exchange was fumbled and the ball popped out behind a pile of players in the middle of the field and was recovered by the Giants. It was returned down the left sideline and as the cover defence tried to get across, they were all a step too slow and the Giants looked to have completely reversed their fortunes with their first score of the game. As the runner approached the end zone, he looked back to see a flag on the play and a possible touchdown was negated by a penalty for a block in the back against one of the Spartans chasers.
This bought the ball all the way back to their 40 yard line and the Giants would have to start a new drive from there. The penalty was a big break for the Spartans as it meant that the Giants had to try and score against their tough defence and so far that had been an impossible task. It continued that way as the Spartans continued to completely shut down anything that the Giants offence tried to through at them. Whether it was power runs, quick passes or gadget plays like receiver reverse passes, the defence had an answer to every question posed to it by the Giants. The Spartans soon got the ball back but their second half offensive struggles continued as there were more fumbled snaps that put paid to any sort of momentum they were trying to build. Following this turnover the defence regained possession as a fumbled handoff to their running back gifted the ball to Henry Tauti who recovered the fumble near the line of scrimmage. With the game moving into the fourth quarter and still having a two score lead, the Spartans moved Peniata back to Quarterback but the results were the same as he heaved a third down pass downfield only for it to be picked off by the ball hawking Giant secondary once again. With time running out, the Porirua team had to take some more shots at long passes to give themselves a chance, but Safety Chris Toms made an athletic play on one of these deep balls and got the interception that iced the game for the Hutt Valley men. A scoreless second half for the second week in a row left the final score at 14 points to nil and the Spartans at the top of the AFW points table, one game ahead of the Porirua Giants and two ahead of the Wolves.
Special mentions go to the two players of the day. On offence one of the big rookie lineman who led the way for Amosa’s big statistical day, Esekia Tanu was rewarded for an aggressive and dominant display up front. The defensive Player of the Day went to another rookie, Ina Sione. He has three turnovers in his first two games, and he got the medal for a defensive effort that included two fumble recoveries and a team leading 7 tackles on the day. It wasn’t just the quantity of tackles either, as every one of them showed good technique and were definitely felt by the opposition.

Game 1 - Flawless victory 20-0 over the Wellington City Wolves

posted Nov 14, 2011, 12:07 AM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Nov 21, 2011, 6:15 PM ]

Finally the first game of the season was upon us and after the Wellington Wolves went down 12-0 to the Porirua Giants in game one of the season the week before, the Spartans were expecting a bit of a backlash from their week two opponents. This was a rematch of last years Capital Bowl which was won in a dominant performance by the Spartans 34-8, So the home team Wolves definitely would have had revenge on the minds as well to further motivate them for this big game. Both teams had a lot of players ready to get the game started and this showed the main benefit of having a three team competition this season, with all teams looking like they have very healthy rosters in the early stages of the season. Spartans game captains, Scott Thomson, Jonny Connor and Bevan Wood met the opposition & the officials at midfield and came back with the news that they would be kicking off to start their campaign in defence of the title they won in February. After a solid kick coverage the defence got the first chance to impress, and with six starting rookies on that side of the ball they could have been forgiven if they came out slightly nervous.
They came out and looked anything but rookies, Henry Tauti, Michael Farrer, Ina Sione, Supa Afele and William & Joe Oloapu all looked immediately like they belonged on a football field as the Wolves were forced into an immediate three & out. With the wind at their backs the Spartans fielded a short punt and it was the offences turn to try and match the start that the defence had given the team. Veteran Fullback Ese Amosa started things off with a bang! In an eerily similar start to last years final when Scott Thomson took the opening kickoff back for a score to set the boys up for their second ever championship, Amosa took the first play from scrimmage about 60 yards down the right sideline for the TD. He broke a couple of tackles as he headed toward the sideline and then got a massive block from WR Colin Leilua-Toilolo which gave him just enough room to tip toe inside the sideline before breaking two more cover tackles and falling into the endzone. The sideline went up and the cheers were still being heard as Amosa barreled his way in for the 2-point conversion on a tough run up the middle breaking yet more tackles.

The defence continued to play impressively as they were flying around the field and putting a lot of pressure on anyone who had the ball in their hands. William and Vena Kalepo were both constantly in the Wolves backfield and were really effective with their tackling and never gave the opposition a chance to get in any sort of offensive rhythm. With a lot of their run plays being stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, the Wolves tried to pass their way out of trouble but Sione, dropping back in coverage from his ILB position, stepped in front of a pass over the middle and returned the interception about 40 yards back down to the Wolves 10-yard line. Amosa made them pay for the turnover scoring his second rushing touchdown in spectacular fashion. Once again he gained yards down the right side and just short of the goal line he leapt high to hurdle the safety and dive into the end zone. Toward the end of the first half the Wolves had the ball near halfway but their drive stalled with around twenty seconds left on the clock. They attempted a punt but the punter couldn't handle the snap and was sacked for a big loss. After telling QB Connor to take a knee to finish the half, Spartan Head Coach Nate Lambert couldn't pass up the good field position and at the last minute he got the call out on to the field to take a shot at the end zone. Connor took full advantage of the opportunity and immediately found Thomson who made an incredible catch at the front of the end zone for a crucial TD just before halftime. With a second failed two point attempt the Spartans went into the sheds leading by 20 points to nil.

The message at halftime from the Spartan coaches was for more of the same as they had been dominant on both sides of the ball in racking up their lead, and with patchy showers continuing to make the weather conditions difficult, 20 points should have seen them far enough ahead to win this game. But they came out in the second half and had the worst possible start. The Wolves had upped their intensity and with Amosa on the sideline resting a sore shoulder, the offence was starting to struggle. They were forced into a punt and the snap went straight over Wood's head and after a few players fumbled the ball down field, the Wolves ended up with possession in the Spartan red zone. The defence came up big though as they had done all day and forced a turnover on downs as the Wolves offence continued to be suffocated by a defence that just seemed to be all over the field. Kalepo and yet another impressive rookie, Clint Foai were constantly getting into the backfield and making plays. The offence was slowly working their way into good field position before Connor held the ball a little too long before passing and took a big sack and the ball came loose and was dived upon by the defence for their second consecutive turnover. Connor injured his leg on the play and didn't return to the game, so he joined Amosa on the sideline. The defence continued to dominate though and their impressive team effort would see the Wolves kept to zero for the second week in a row. 

The Offence, without their starting Quarterback and Running back, worked well in the fourth quarter with Thomson under centre and Wood and Sione filling in at FB. The weather meant the game was always going to be a slightly messy affair but both teams did really well in playing some very positive and exciting football throughout the afternoon. The second half stalemate continued without too many highlights and after a scoreless second half the game ended with a twenty to nil win for the Hutt Valley team.

Well played to the Wolves and congratulations to the Spartans for an impressive first up effort. Everybody that stepped foot on the field turned up with a great team attitude and it showed in the result. The most pleasing aspect of game one was the performance of all of the rookies, and there were a lot of new boys out there. 

There were some very impressive shows of athleticism and instincts from some of the new boys, and they showed how much potential they have. It is going to be a very exciting year watching all of these players grow into their positions and this team should move forward and become a very formidable unit as they try to go for the Capital Bowl repeat.

Spartans vs Wolves - Preseason Game Review

posted Oct 24, 2011, 12:16 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Oct 24, 2011, 12:53 PM ]

What a day the Wellington weather put on for the first taste of football for the 2011-12 season. A lovely sunny day where the Spartans were taking on the Wolves in a pre-season battle to give each squad a gauge of how their trainings are going and for any rookie players to get their first taste of our great game. These two teams are always closely matched and today would be no different.

Being a pre-season hit out the rules had been slightly altered from regular season play and this created a bit of a festival atmosphere with a few old faces showing up on both teams.

Both teams started out a bit shaky on offence but it was Ian Vena from the Spartans who, playing behind an all rookie offensive line, made a couple of long runs to get the chains moving and provide a bit of excitement for the small crowd of family and friends that had gathered at Heretaunga College to watch. Both teams defences were definitely dominating proceedings however and it was the Wolves who got the first turnover of the game with a tipped ball that they turned into an interception and a short return off a pass by Spartans Quarterback Jonny Connor. The first half really was a struggle for both offences as they tried to find some early season chemistry, and late in the half Connor replaced impressive rookie Chris Matsopoulos at Cornerback and immediately got some revenge by picking up an interception himself. The only score of the game came on a late drive from the Wolves. After getting good field position they put together a solid drive making especially good use of their running backs on both running and passing plays. They eventually ran it in for the score and followed that up with a nice pass play for the two point conversion to get ahead eight points to nil which would end up being the final score.

The second half was a continuation of the firsts defensive stalemate.

Both teams used this game as a fantastic opportunity to try things out and while a lot of the things didn't quite work as was planned, the game was played in a great spirit and everybody had a great day. One of the highlights during the second half for the home team was a long pass from Connor straight over the middle to Jed Peniata who made a fantastic catch on his finger tips then ran forty odd yards down field before being tripped up a few yards short of the ten yard line. Solid defence from the Wolves and some offensive penalties stopped them from scoring, and toward the end of the game the visitors had reversed their fortunes and were knocking on the door of the Spartan goal line. Rookie lineman Mark Tanu made two massive plays to help the team end on a positive note. On first down he broke through the offensive line and ran down the running back before riding him into the dirt with a tackle that looked like a lion bringing down his prey. Then after forcing them into a passing situation on third down, the defensive line again created pressure that forced a short tipped pass that bounced right into Tanu's massive hands and he got his giant frame moving down field for a short return that had the sideline going wild.

It was an absolutely terrific way to start the season off and both teams got a lot out of the game that is going to hold them in good stead for the regular season which starts in a couple of weeks. Congratulations to all the rookie Spartans who made themselves and everyone involved in the team extremely proud with a fine display throughout the game and showed a lot of flashes of the potential that the team has going into this years defence of the Capital Bowl title that they won last season.

Thanks a lot to the Wolves committee for their help in organising the game and a big thank you to the NZGOA for providing officials for the match. We look forward to seeing everyone at training on Tuesday as we continue our work towards our season opener on November 12.

Photos Courtesy of Juntunlayco (http://juntanlaycosports.com/)

Preseason Scrimmage vs Wolves - 22 October 2011

posted Oct 18, 2011, 4:42 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Oct 18, 2011, 4:44 PM ]

We have confirmation of a preseason scrimmage at Heretaunga College this Saturday (22 October 2011) vs the Wellington City Wolves.
A comment from veteran player Ian Vena "It will be great to have this game as an eye opener for all our rookies to gain exposure to American Football and help get a few of the old boys fired up too".
Kick off will begin at 1:00pm and will be offciated by the Wellington AFW referrees. An exciting game to to kick start the 2011/12 season.

MVP Awards

posted Aug 23, 2011, 3:34 PM by hutt valley Spartans   [ updated Oct 18, 2011, 6:39 PM ]

After a successful season coming away with the Capital Bowl trophy in a fantastic 34-8 win over the Wellington Wolves, the Spartans had a lot to celebrate at their annual prize giving’s. There was a huge turnout to the event and everyone was ecstatic to receive their championship medals before Chris Toms was recognised for his outstanding performance in the final with the Capital Bowl MVP medal. These awards had everyone in good spirits as they awaited the results of the clubs annual MVP awards.


The first award which is usually the rookie of the year was changed this year due to a lack of eligible players. Instead there was an award for the Under-19/Junior player of the year which was won by Quarterback Daniel Rongen after leading the team all year and putting up some good stats. The Offensive Lineman of the year was a fairly easy one as veteran Daniel Vena had been the rock of the line for the whole season and not only consistently dominated his opposing players but also helped immensely with the development of some of the younger linemen throughout the year. The Defensive player of the year had quite a few contenders but was eventually taken out by Linebacker Joe Heredia. Joe was fantastic this season, and anyone that came near him didn't go any further once they met his shoulder pads. His big hits and competitive attitude were infectious and helped the defence out of many a hole on game days. Offensive player of the year was another award that could have gone to any number of players. With a lot of the scoring being spread out amongst many different players, no one person really stood out too much more than the rest. Daniel Rongen won his second award of the night with this one based on his consistent play throughout the season as well as a game winning display in the final. For a player of his age to be running an offence as well as he does is very impressive from the young man. The major award for the night was the overall team MVP and this one was a unanimous decision by the clubs committee. Daniel Vena had given his all in every game he played and left the field after every game with nothing left in the tank. His commitment to the team was only matched by his dominant form on the field. He played multiple positions on both sides of the ball as needed and lifted those around him with his performances. Whenever the Spartans needed a play it was usually Daniel that would step up and create a turnover or open a gaping hole on the line for the running backs to stroll through. The club looks forward to seeing more of these types of performances in the years to come.


Congratulations to all of this years award winners and thank you very much for all of your efforts throughout the season. Your names will be added to the impressive list of past winners and will be a great addition to the history of our club. We look forward to the upcoming season and hope all players from last season will be returning to help defend our title in 2011/12.       


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