01 Dec 2017

The KPMG Women’s Premiership tomorrow offersa tantalising match-up between Eco Gai Wu Falconsand Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers (King’s Park, 19:30), after SocieteGenerale Valleyplay Natixis HKFC Ice(Happy Valley, 18:00). In the KPMG Women’s Premiership Development, SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay vTransact 24 Tai Po Dragons (Education University, 18:00) also looks set to entertain, along with the game between Kowloon Ladies and Comvita City Sparkle (Shek Kip Mei, 18.00).

Over the course of two successive games against HKFC, Fan Shun Kei’s Tigers side have swung from a scrappy, 10-7 win to a sweeping 48-5 demolition. Coach Fan is confident that the latter performance, and his side’s 17-17 draw in their last meeting with Gai Wu, are the signals to watch.

“In that first game [against Football Club], we were making frustratingly simple mistakes – basic handling errors, our lineout was not accurate. Luckily it all happened in one game. But then last week’s game was one of the best this season. We were much, much better – the execution was there,” he said.

“We start this second stage of the Premiership in really good condition. Now we just need to hold our attacking shape. We don’t need a lot of changes,” Fan proposed.

For tomorrow’s game, he thinks he knows his side’s strengths, and their opponents’.

“Gai Wu have some very aggressive ball carriers, so we need to slow them down [early] and use kicking tactics to play in their half, even if we’re defending,” he explained.

Tigers are missing Bena Yu, so Lindsay Varty will move to outside centre, if she is cleared for a minor calf problem. Natasha Olson-Thorne also has a concern, with her back, but should play.

Gai Wu’s Lai Yiu Pang also has cause to feel confident, after last week putting mighty Valley under pressure, as a solid defence and sometimes effective attack were undone by the league champions’ clever tactics and skilful kicking.He predicts a physical and direct game, highlighting Nam Ka Man and Olson-Thorne as threats.

“Last week we did well in defence, and if we can maintain that, andwork as a team, our attack can do its job. Whichever team avoids making errors can win. Consistency is key”, suggested Lai.

“I expect Tigers to kick for territory, as they have players able to do that, which can be dangerous but also an opportunity if we can link up with the other backs to put an attack together.

“They will punish us if we give them time to run. We’ve done some homework with our back three [practising receiving kicks],” he said

Lai still feels under pressure in terms of his squad availability, with a number of injuries and absences. Experienced scrum half Sham Wai Sum suffered a broken nose during the practice earlier this week, keeping her out of action for the next six weeks. Her fellow national player Chan Ka Yan will be unavailable until after Christmas. However, returning from injuryis another Hong Kong representative, Pun Wai Yan,who will take on a less familiar number eight role.

Meanwhile, in Round 8 of the KPMG Women's National League 1, Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 2 bid for a second successive defence of the KPMG NL 1 Challenge Shield as they take on Revolution SRC(KGV, 18.00). One level below, in KPMG Women's NL 2, it’s SCAA First Pacific CWB Lammergeierlikewise defending the KPMG National League 2 Challenge Shield against University RFC Ladies atEducation University at 16:45