08 Dec 2018

Natixis HKFC spoiled Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay’s first ever home match at Aberdeen Sports Ground with a 32-18 win off of a 27 point contribution from fly-half Glyn Hughes.  In other Premiership action, Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers beat Kerry Hotel Kowloon 37-15, while Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish defended the Broony Quaich with a 32-20 home win over Societe Generale Valley.  


The weekend’s results solidify the positions of the top four on the league table with two rounds remaining before the Christmas break. Scottish lead the league with 29 points, six ahead of tied-second HKFC with the two sides facing off next weekend.  


Tigers’ win over Kowloon keeps them in co-second place with HKFC, while an uncharacteristic first half of the season has Valley below .500 at three wins against four losses, good for 17 points. Sandy Bay and Kowloon prop up the bottom of the table on 7 and 6 points respectively.


It was a typically tight first half for Sandy Bay, who have seen four of their seven matches in the Premiership decided by 7 points or less, but Club never left things in doubt with a commanding second half showing in the final 32-18 win.


Needing the victory for a chance to crack the Grand Championship quartet, Sandy Bay threw everything into what was a superb first twenty minutes with a positive performance from a forward pack lead by captain Alex Post and No.8 Luke van der Smit, and an effective team-wide rush defence, preventing Football Club from establishing any rhythm early on.


Constant pressure lead to Sandy Bay’s first ever home Premiership try when Jack Metters capitalized on a poor clearance kick by Club’s Nate De Thierry. Metters gloved an awkwardly bouncing ball to race over the line for the first try of the game. Metters missed the conversion but Sandy Bay had drawn first blood, leading 5-0 after 10 minutes.


Tails pointing north, the hosts kept up the pressure and created another opportunity in the 15th minute when Club were penalized for not rolling away from a ruck beneath the posts, giving Metters a chance for a chip-shot penalty to expand the lead to 8-0.


Football Club’s first points came from an attack started by full-back Niall Rowark, whose scampering foray drove deep into the Sandy Bay camp before flanker Jevon Groves’ pick and go brought Club right down to Sandy Bay’s five-metre line.  


With congestion in the red zone, Hughes cleverly opted for the cross-kick off from the back of an attacking ruck. Perfectly weighted, his kick dropped into the arms of wing Tom Isaac in the absolute corner of the Sandy Bay in-goal, for one of the tries of the season. Hughes added insult to injury with a tricky conversion from the touchline as Club trailed 8-7 after 20 minutes.


Sandy Bay responded with another offensive push, controlling the ball on Football Club’s doorstep for over 15 phases before being awarded a penalty.  Metters’ conversion was good as Sandy Bay reclaimed the lead, 10-8, with two minutes remaining.

Football Club responded magnificently as No.8 Paul Gualino corralled the re-start and drove the ball down into Sandy Bay’s half, eventually forcing the Sandy Bay defence into conceding a penalty.  


Hughes conversion was on target at the stroke of half-time giving Club a momentum-swinging lead - one they would never relinquish - heading into the second half.


Club turned the table on the hosts in the second stanza as the visitors controlled both territory and possession down the stretch.  Under nearly 30 minutes of sustained pressure to start the second half, Sandy Bay’s defence started to spring cracks.  


While not yielding tries, Hughes was gifted with several kickable opportunities down the home stretch. He was on song with all four of his penalty attempts to extend Club’s lead to 25-11 by the 65-minute marker.


Hughes hit for the cycle in the 68th minute when he charged down a clearance kick by his opposite number Nick Cummings for the try.  He added his own conversion to bring Club’s final output to 32 points.


Sandy Bay’s No 8. Van der Smit was rewarded for a good battling effort across an 80-minute shift with a try at the hooter to shave the final margin of victory to 32-18.


The deadliest kicker in the Premiership, Hughes converted all eight shots from the tee – with his six penalties and two conversions, and his charge down try accounting for 27 of Club’s 32 points. Hughes’ kicking from hand also set-up Club’s only other try for Isaacs.


At Shek Kip Mei, Scottish jumped out to a 22-10 lead at half-time after an opening penalty try and further scores from fullback Sean Taylor and captain Josh Dowsing in the first half.  


Valley narrowed the gap to 22-15 after an early second half strike from one of their young finds of the season in winger Harry Sayers, but centre Andrew Henderson quickly re-established Scottish supremacy with a try in the 56th minute, with Gregor McNeish’s conversion pushing the lead back to 14 points, 29-15.  


Two yellow cards and a red card warped the final quarter of play, but more solid kicking from McNeish kept Scottish comfortable in the waning minutes, despite a late try from Valley’s Hugo Chui as the league leaders ran out to a 32-20 win.  Recent Hong Kong age grade stars scored all three of the defending grand champions’ tries today with a youth movement well and truly underway in Happy Valley.


Tigers reinforced their position towards the top of the league standings and re-asserted their control of King’s Park this afternoon after beating Kowloon 37-15. Full-back Robbie Keith struck two first half penalties for Tigers, with winger Chiu Kai-tun adding Kowloon’s only points with a try in the 39th minute, as the two King’s Park clubs battled to a 6-5 margin after the first half.


Things opened up considerably in the second half with both sides contributing a further 29 points to the scoreboard in the opening quarter of the second half. Hong Kong prop Dan Barlow started the scoreboard ticking with a try in the 45th minute to give Tigers a 13-5 lead after Keith’s conversion.  

Kowloon full-back Ed Styles kept his side in touch with his first penalty in the 50th minute, but his opposite number Keith replied in style - scoring and converting his own try in the 52nd minute to push the lead out to 20-8.


Ron Tavodi stepped up with a try for Kowloon with Styles adding the extras to close the gap to 20-15 with 20 minutes remaining and everything to play for, but Tigers were not to be denied as Sam Purvis, Matt Keay and Keith all crossed over for further tries in the final 20 minutes.  Keith converted his brace to bring the final score to 37-15.