07 Oct 2017

Natixis HKFC head into the week off in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership with a perfect record after a 20-15 win over Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers at King’s Park.

Also in round three, Bloomberg HK Scottish snatched a late 20-16 win over Kowloon and Societe Generale Valley edged Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC 29-26 in one of the tightest Premiership rounds in recent years.

Football Club were forced to work for their victory after at one point sitting pretty with a 20-3 advantage, ensuring coach Phil Bailey has plenty to think about despite his side’s impressive start to the season.

“We made it very hard on ourselves, at 20-3 that was a game that we needed to close out and we made it very hard on ourselves,” Bailey said.

Bailey highlighted centre Gavin Hadley, scrum half Henry Poon, No 8 Marcus Slade and winger Jamie Lauder as those who him impressed him in a game that saw HKFC reach their first goal of the season.

“We set ourselves a goal and we didn’t look any farther forward than these three rounds and we have achieved that little goal,” Bailey said. “Same thing now, we will just keep working in little blocks.”

After Tigers’ Robbie Keith and Football Club full back Glyn Hughes traded early penalties, it was a try to Poon, duly converted by Hughes, that gave HKFC a 10-3 half-time lead.

De Thierry then went on a scoring spree to start the second half, racking up a try, a conversion and a penalty in that order to blow the margin out to 17 points.

But the Tigers showed the grit that has been on display in all of their games so far this season and fought their way back into the contest through tries to winger Mak Kwai-chung and full back Casey Stone before ultimately falling short.

It was a 77th-minute try to prop Jamie Pincott that saw Scottish home in a thriller against Kowloon after they trailed 16-13 in the dying stages, with Gregor McNeish’s conversion the icing on the cake.

“It was a win, there was nothing in the game really and it could have gone either way but probably the last 20 minutes for us the boys cranked it up which was good,” Scottish coach Craig Hammond said.

Kowloon led 10-3 at the break on the back of a try to centre Lewis Warner, before McNeish slotted a penalty to drag the margin back to four.

After Michael Hanning knocked one over for Kowloon to restore the margin, Scottish centre Sam Vaevae ensured a grandstand finish with a converted try on 64 minutes to level the scores.

Kowloon edged back in front via another Hanning penalty but couldn’t hold on as Scottish prevailed.

“It was a bit of a get out of jail card but it’s good to get the win, probably last year we would have lost that sort of game,” Hammond said.

“The boys are really working hard off the field and our fitness in the last 20 minutes shows it is slowly coming through. Today wasn’t perfect, but if you can come away with a win after not playing the best it’s good.Two wins out of three games going into a bit of a break looks a lot better than going in one win and two losses.”

HKCC led Valley 19-14 at the break after first-half tries to No 8 Mark Prior, centre Gair Currie and winger Andrew Stidworthy, with Valley countering through touch downs to scrum half Ruan Duplooy and forward Carl Marks.

Valley blew the game out of the water in the second half, however, scoring 15 points in 16 minutes to set up victory. It was winger Matthew Bell and substitute Karetai Williams who crossed for the reigning grand champions, before lock Lawrence Babe went over for the Cricketers to set up a tense finish.

In the Old Mutual International Championship competition, the weekly battle for the OMI Championship Challenge Cup saw last week’s inaugural holders SCAA First Pacific CWB Tempest retain the new trophy with a 29-10 league win over ECO Gai Wu Rebels. Next week Causeway Bay will attempt a second defence of the Cup when they take on University Wizards, who today overcame City RFC with a 33-3 win.