CPM Gai Wu Falcons racked up a 79-5 win over SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay Phoenix yesterday, edging out Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies for top spot in the KPMG Women’s Premiership. The Falcons earned their slender two-point goal difference advantage by outscoring Valley, who put in a dominant performance of their own to overcome Kowloon 44-0. But unbeaten Valley have a game in hand and – having seen off Gai Wu in their first encounter – surely have expectations to retain the league title for another year.
Causeway Bay began their afternoon brightly, taking the ball to within five metres of the Gai Wu try line but found no way through. The pace and class of the Falcons attack then kicked in, with Hong Kong talisman Aggie Poon opening the account on four minutes, cutting through the opposition backline to touch down from the wing.
Further first-quarter tries from hooker Wong Tsz Ying, Hong Kong flanker Christy Cheng and captain Hoi Lam Ho followed varied play that included consecutive ruck penalties to Gai Wu that were kicked for the corner and several piercing runs down the middle by No.8 Mei Nam Chow and loosehead prop Tammy Lau.
All the scores were placed too wide for the boot of Aggie Poon to find the posts, but put the hosts firmly in control.
Moving towards half-time, a brace from speedster Chong Ka Yan – her first of six – and successful conversions by Poon extended the Gai Wu lead to 34-0 but were followed by stiffer Causeway Bay defence that kept play in midfield.
A barnstorming run by Causeway Bay’s young Tina Ho after the break got her side into the Gai Wu 22 but a ruck turnover put the ball in the hands of Poon, who sprinted the length of the field to score under the posts, and convert, resuming the game’s narrative.
Good carries by the Gai Wu forwards underpinned many of the second half’s plays as the Gai Wu try count rose to 13, among seven players.
Almost at the death, a consolation try for Causeway Bay was well deserved after periods of valiant defence and industrious commitment to make something against their classy opposition.
Gai Wu coach Lai Yiu Pang had put his players on notice before the match that they would only perform to the best of their collective ability if they believed in themselves more, and he was clearly pleased with the outcome.
“The team performed really well, really focused on what I asked of them. The score tells a lot, but I’m happy with more than just the score.’ he says.
“I want to make them challenge themselves. Going into the game I set them a target of winning by more than 40 points. But when we scored 34 in the first half, I said I wanted another 40 in the second half, and they delivered.”
Despite the loss, Causeway Bay’s Ocean Chow remained upbeat: “I appreciate my players. They never gave up. I was very pleased that we kept making every effort and were rewarded with a try in the last two or three minutes.”
“We followed our plan, working our backline and playing quick ball. But we’d then make a minor mistake, and they would always capitalise on the turnover. We know we need to tighten up our discipline, and our tackling, which was not as committed as I would like, at times,” he added.
Chow was pleased with his two new starts, Tina Ho and Ka Lok Ng, who he said “both played well”. He also picked out fly half Ng Wing Yee, as “determined and effective in defence and going forward, putting pressure on Gai Wu.”
Meanwhile, on the day that Valley Men were undone by Kowloon, Valley Ladies continued their winning ways over the same opposition, turning in a clinical 44-0 win, with a special mention for Kelsie Bouttle, whose sterling performance came on the back of her New Year’s Day award as HKRU Best U19 Player. But Kowloon came away with their heads held high, having put in “their best performance of the season, showing all-round improvement on the team that stood up back in October,” according to Sam Feausi, HKRU Women's Development Manager.
In the other Premiership game, a depleted HKFC side beat City 29-8 in a game that displayed the ability of both sides, said Feausi.