07 Dec 2018

Undefeated Societe Generale Valley face off against Gai Wu Falcons in this weekend’s KPMG Premiership Game of the Week at 16.30 at KGV. 

Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers take on Natixis HKFC Ice at 15.00 at Kowloon Tsai, while Kerry Hotel Kowloon face off against SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay at 18.00 at King’s Park, and Transact24 Tai Po Dragons play Plastic Free City Sparkle at the same time at Shek Kip Mei.

With this weekend’s action marking the final outing of the calendar year for the eight Premiership sides, and the last chance to book a spot in the top four ahead of the split into Premiership A and B grades after the new year.

Last year’ grand championship finalists, Valley and Falcons, are unsurprisingly locked into the elite competition again in 2019, but the emergence of Tigers as a top three threat has added welcome uncertainty at the sharp end of the Premiership after the turn of the year.

Tigers are keen to horn in on the action after Valley and Falcons have made the league title and grand championships a game of keep-away in recent seasons, with at least one of the pair winning or figuring in the last eight Grand Finals - Valley claiming five titles to Gai Wu’s three in the same period.

Tigers have already upset Falcons this month, handing the defending league and grand champions their only blot on the copybook with an emphatic 34-5 win to climb them level with Gai Wu in tied-second.

Valley have made it look easy as they continue their impressive run to the start of the season posting 241 points across six matches while conceding just 30.  Tigers have scored the most points this season with 247, while Falcons have yet to cross the 200 point marker, stuck on 196 heading into the final round of 2018.

While this weekend’s top of the table clash is a mouthwatering spectacle, the most important match in terms of results is that between Kowloon and Causeway Bay, who are fighting to avoid relegation with both teams tied-3rd ahead of tomorrow’s decider.

Causeway Bay was in a similar position last season with a late loss to Natixis HKFC pushing them to the developmental Premiership for the second half of the year, a result the club are keen to avoid in tomorrow’s clash with Kowloon. 

It will be the first match between the two clubs this season in what promises to be a crucial clash.

“It’s going to be tough for both teams,” said Causeway Bay coach Chris Lin.

“For the second season in a row, we are fighting for a top four spot and have prepared as well as we can. The team is excited and out to put in a good performance.”

Defence wins championships and Lin is calling for an all-out effort from his charges tomorrow considering Kowloon’s advantage in the forwards.

“Kowloon have a very good forward pack. They have a good pack leader and they have the advantage in body weight and strength over us. Our strength is in playing smart rugby and using the space on the pitch to our advantage,” said Lin.

A focus on defence will be key if Causeway Bay is to blunt Kowloon’s advantage up front. That could be an issue as while Causeway Bay’s attack has been strong early on - the defence has been a weak link with the club conceding 200 points in the first half of the season, compared to Kowloon’s 124.

“This is primarily a result of some of our training issues and availability early in the year. Most of our players are working full time and do not have enough time for training. That is why our communication and our defensive structure has been lacking. That has been our main problem, really,” said Lin.

Lin has a long-term goal for the club and gaining promotion to the top four has been a target from day one. 

For Lin, This weekend presents a chance for the club to build belief in their capabilities, particularly after Causeway Bay finished a disappointing second in the junior Premiership behind Transact 24 Tai Po Dragons last season.

“We have different focuses depending on where we finish for the long-term benefit of the club.

“If we are in the top four, we can learn a lot from regular matches against the top three to improve our performance. If we are relegated again this season, then we have a target to win that competition and get back to the top three next year,” Lin added.