DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR SOCIETE GENERALE VALLEY IN DETTOL HONG KONG RUGBY PREMIERSHIP

27 Sep 2021

It was double delight for Societe Generale Valley in round two of the Dettol Hong Kong Rugby Premiership, after the men’s XV beat KPMG HK Scottish 24-12 in the Dettol Premiership game of the week, and the Women beat Gai Wu Falcons 18-07 in the women’s showcase.

Valley ran out comfortable winners over Scottish behind a dominant performance from their forwards, who bedevilled the opposition from the opening scrum. Doing it the hard way, Scottish relied on its adventurous and dangerous backline to create threats on multiple occasions, only for the last ball to go to a defender’s hand. Ultimately the consistent pressure from Valley blunted Scottish’s attacking edge.

Scottish struck first, however, with a try started off a clever miss pass from centre Mike Green to fullback Sean Taylor, who played keep-away with scrumhalf Thomas Wilson before dotting down. Captain Gregor McNeish couldn’t convert from out wide but Scottish had a 5-0 lead after 9 minutes. Their next points wouldn’t come until the start of the second half as Valley switched to a ball control game, thoroughly exploiting their depth and size advantage in the forwards.

Twinning pressure and possession, Valley scored its first points from a collapsed scrum with  centre Mitchell Purvis, a last-minute fill-in at fly half, slotting the penalty goal to bring the score to 5-3. The scrum again came into focus shortly after with a second failed engagement by the hosts beneath their own posts leading to a penalty try for Valley as they increased the lead to 10-5. They would never relinquish that advantage, pushing the score to 15-5 on 22 minutes after a beautiful, no-look slip pass from centre Peter Laverick put wing Robert Fogerty over the whitewash untouched.

On the whole, Scottish enjoyed the lion’s share of the day’s breaks, with a handful of scoring chances foiled as the last passes went to Valley hands. Their prime set play scoring opportunity came 10 minutes from half time with a tap and go penalty from five metres. Scottish retained the ball for a dozen phases but turned possession over out wide. Ultimately it was Valley who would score at the death, as they converted an attacking lineout 20 metres from the Scottish line into an easy try to push the gap to 24-5 after 40.

Difficult conditions contributed to a decline in play in the second half with a lack of Scottish props forcing non-contested scrums shortly after the break, depriving Valley of a prime advantage and sapping game flow.

The entry of Lex Kaleca in the second half was a positive for Scottish, as the burly Fijian centre added some much needed go-forward ball to help the home side cross the gain-line regularly off the fringes.

 

 

In the 57th minute scrumhalf Adam Rolston was handed the fist yellow card of his premiership career for an illegal clear out, swinging the advantage back to Scottish. Unfortunately, the hosts immediately ceded a penalty for not releasing in the tackle, allowing Valley to clear their lines from the 22.

With the man advantage and looking to play the game in the visitors’ half, McNeish turned in a variety of grubbers and chips to turn the Valley attack, but the visitors’ back three were equal to the pressure. In the 66th minute another freewheeling backline move put Scottish in attacking position and this time Kaleca made sure, diving over the line for a well-deserved score for the reserve centre, who had an immense impact with his direct running. McNeish added the extras to bring the score to 24-12 but the last quarter offered no further points as the teams fiercely contested mid-field before time expired.

“I think we bounced back well from last week after losing to the champions Football Club,” said Valley head coach Mark Fatialofa; “We wanted to take Scottish on in the set piece, because we thought we could get dominance there, and we did, but as the game wore on the conditions worked against us.”

Fatialofa was pleased to come away with the first “w” of the season saying, “I am happy for the boys that stuck with it out there, the conditions were really tough today.”

He also welcomed back co-captain Ruan Duplooy for his first game after returning from overseas and hailed Laverick’s contribution. Duplooy played the entire game on the wing as Valley’s juggled its backline to replace Purvis’s spot in the centres pre-game.

“Ruan is a class player, wherever we put him. He is our co captain and whenever we ask him to do a job, he does it and he brings people with him, he is such a good leader. Peter Laverick also had a very strong game, directing everything in the middle, he’s a glue guy for us, and helps keep everything ticking along.”

With three forward imports in quarantine and a fourth on the way, Scottish coach Peter Jericevich was left ruing what might have been had his side been at full-strength: “It’s similar to last week, a lot of positives to take away. When we dictate the tempo we are creating a lot of opportunities, but we have to take them. We’re two games in now, and it’s great to see that early on in the season we are generating and creating opportunities and getting close in games like this. With a bit more game time we will be finishing these games off,” he said.

In other men’s Premiership results, DAC Kowloon beat Kroll USRC Tigers 34-30 and Natixis HKFC edged ImpactHK Sandy Bay HKU 16-14. After two rounds, HKFC and Kowloon remain the only unbeaten sides.

It was more of the same for Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies in tonight’s Dettol Women’s Premiership game of the week versus Gai Wu Falcons. Valley were too powerful for Gai Wu winning 18-7 after pulling away in an entertaining match that saw both sides nipping at each other’s heels. The score at half time was 10-0 to Valley before they closed it out down the final stretches of the second half.

 

 

For coach and Samoa international Bella Milo it was another step in the team’s evolution, “We improved massively from last week. We put in a good shift and whatever we worked on in training came out; our set piece was improved, we put more phases together, and we applied more pressure on Gai Wu, so we came out on top in the end, but it was another 80-minute close game.”

Valley made no doubt about the opening score with a wonderful team try set up by a great meandering run from captain Jess Eden who offloaded to ex-New Zealand international Olivia Coady, who returned the favour for Eden’s score after 10 minutes. Valley stretched the lead to 10 after the water break with a magnificent patch of play from the forwards, as prop Kea Herewini finished off a line break started by Cherly So to push over from in close.

Gai Wu made it interesting with their first try coming shortly after the start of the second half with Stephanie Chan put the Valley defence under pressure from the restart. A bobbled catch gave Gai Wu the attacking scrum and Tammy Lau added the five-pointer from the opportunity. Chan’s conversion closed the gap to 10-7.

Olivia Coady replied with a forward’s try to put Valley back ahead on 15 points; showing how close matters were, Valley opted for a late penalty to keep Gai Wu from building any momentum, putting the game away, 18-7 after Milo’s conversion.

For a Gai Wu side immersed in a rebuilding year after a wave of key player retirements, (almost half of tonight’s squad were playing at National League level last year, fortunately the other half featured numerous Hong Kong stars), it was an encouraging outing, but the fixes are evident for coach Andrew Li.

“The effort is there, but we need more accuracy. We played a lot of the rugby tonight and last week [a loss to Tigers]. Those little errors are ruining it for us and it is all down to pressure. We have now played the first and second teams in the Prem, but I told the girls that the other games wouldn’t be easy either. The premiership is about pressure and we have to learn to live with that pressure and still execute.”

Gai Wu captain and Hong Kong international Abigail Chan agreed saying, “The girls gave a huge effort but handling errors hurt us. We are working on fixing that. It is still early in the season and we have a lot of new players so it will come. We’re really looking forward to the next game to see how much we can improve from this performance,” added a confident Chan.

In the other games Natixis HKFC Ice romped home past SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay, 50-0, with Sofie Fella scoring a brace and five other Ice players scoring tries while captain Aileen Ryan added four conversions. Kroll USRC Tigers made it two from two with a 21-0 win over DAC Kowloon

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