16 Feb 2019

Gai Wu Falcons and Societe Generale Valley are on another collision course for the league title when they meet next Saturday in what promises to be a thrilling close to the KPMG Premiership Top 4 season. 

Wins tonight for Falcons, 22-0 over Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers, and Valley, 34-nil over Kerry Hotel Kowloon, have the two sides careening into next weekend’s final match in what is shaping up to be a heavyweight bout between the two women’s rugby superpowers.

Gai Wu entered tonight’s penultimate tie needing a bonus point win to keep their hopes of defending their league title alive.  They did enough to stay in contention – just, leaving it to the last possible second when winger Chong Ka-yan crossed over in added time to secure the bonus point and a 22-0 victory.

As has been the case all season long, there is little between the top three sides in this season’s Premiership, and Gai Wu could only muster a 7-0 lead at half-time with their only points coming from a penalty try in the 38th minute when the Tigers pack infringed at a scrum on their own try-line.

The late score brought some solace to Falcons coach Lai Yiu-pang, but he was frustrated at the break after his charges failed to convert a glut of first half possession into points.

“It was hard work for sure,” said Lai.

“Our defence was very consistent, but our attack couldn’t function in the first half. We must have had 70 possessions and spent a huge amount of time in their 22, but we lost the ball either through handling errors or at the ruck.”

Lai was pleased with his side’s ability to adjust after the break, “At half-time, we just talked about controlling the game a bit more and eliminating those handling errors. I told our halfbacks to control the game, you know, if we can’t play fast, then play slow and steady and make sure.

“They responded well in the second half and we were able to convert that steady pressure and managed to get three more tries.”

Key second half tries came from Hong Kong lock Chow Mei-nam in the 52nd minute and Ng Ki-sum in the 73rd minute, before Chong kept the dream alive with her score in added time.

Despite their considerable advantages throughout the match, including handing Tigers its first shutout of the season, it was a tense conclusion for Lai as he watched the seconds tick off the clock.

“On my watch the time was up, so I was worried if we could keep the ball. I was confident that if the time was there and we could hang on to the ball we would score, because we were only a few meters off the line.

“If we couldn’t score than I knew the league was over for us, so it was an exciting finish,” said the understated Lai.

For the Falcons that excitement is set to reach new heights as they enter what is now a winner-take-all game against Valley for the league silverware next Saturday. 

Lai is already plotting his side’s next steps; “Defence will be massive for us. We didn’t let Tigers score and our scrambling defence was really good. Tigers have a lot of strong individual players, which is similar to Valley, so I think we can take a lot of confidence from our defensive effort.

“But today was another good lesson for us on improving our attack. If we can link up our attack a bit better with our forwards and backs, we should be in a handy position against Valley, but we are going to need to spend some time with the backs then this week.”

Valley enter the final league match of the season leading the Top 4 Premiership with an unbeaten record and 22 points. 

Gai Wu have now edged into winner take all territory with 19 points ahead of next weekend’s decider, while Tigers fall further off the pace on 7 points ahead of Kowloon at the bottom of the table.

The KPMG Premiership A is equally tense with SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay’s 44-5 win over Plastic Free Seas City Sparkle keeping it within range of league leaders Natixis HKFC Ice, who just beat Transact24 Tai Po Dragons 17-10.

That result ensures that the Minor Premiership title will also be subject to debate next Saturday when table toppers Ice (22 points) face off with Causeway Bay (18 points) in another winner take everything clash next weekend.