15 Feb 2019

To keep their dream of defending their championship double alive, Gai Wu Falcons will need to see off Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers at Kings’ Park (1800) in tomorrow’s KPMG Premiership Game of the Week.  A bonus point win over Tigers will keep the Falcons’ hopes afloat, while setting up a winner-take-all clash with table toppers Societe Generale Valley on the final league weekend in two weeks time.

Valley, who remain undefeated on the season, are likely to prove too much for an injury-depleted Kerry Hotel Kowloon outfit in tomorrow’s other Top 4 clash in Happy Valley, also at 1800.  

In Prem A action, table toppers Natixis HKFC Ice take on third-ranked Transact 24 Tai Po Dragons at Football Club (1800), while second-placed First Pacific SCAA Causeway Bay play Plastic Free Seas City Sparkle at KGV at 17.30.

Gai Wu have come on strong since the split in the league into Top 4 and Premiership A competitions at the end of 2018, putting their game faces on for the business end of the season.

It is the culmination of a long process for coach Lai Yiu-pang, who has been patiently introducing new players throughout the campaign and is starting to see the fruits of those efforts.

“I think the team understand where our strengths are now. The team is finding its way to play. They have a better understanding of our own team and our strengths, particularly our forward pack, and how to play to those strengths and gain control and manage games better,” Lai said.

The two sides have split their encounters to date this season with Tigers taking a 34-5 win in November, before Falcons gained a measure of revenge with a 20-7 win on the final league weekend prior to Chinese New Year.  

Lai believes his team is entering the tiebreaker with more spring in their step but remains concerned about the trials of facing Tigers and Valley back-to-back.

“We took a lot of confidence from our last game with Tigers, so hopefully, we can replicate that again, but it will be a bit tough given the break and some injured players have been a bit slower to recover than we had expected before the break.

“We had some really good momentum going, so the break was really a bit of a distraction. That is why this week’s training is so crucial. We need to get everyone back in and re-focus now.”

Lai is fully aware that despite the roundabout season his side remains in contention to defend their KPMG Premiership and Grand Champion titles, particularly with the end of this season looking remarkably similar to last, when Gai Wu pipped Valley for the Premiership title in the final league match of the year.

“We are still in the race. If we can get another bonus point against Tigers then we will have a shot next week. Mathematically we are still in it, but we won’t be if we don’t focus on this week’s game.

“We have to make it happen now.”