14 Oct 2019

Natixis HKFC saw off the challenge of SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay on Saturday, 25-7, to claim sole share of fourth place in the Premiership rankings.  The top three emerged unscathed after table leaders Societe Generale Valley beat Bloomberg HK Scottish Kukris 52-5, Gai Wu Falcons blanked Transact 24 Tai Po Dragons 44-0, and Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers beat Kerry Hotel Kowloon 37-13.

Valley are in sole possession of first place, (5-0, 25 points), while fellow unbeatens, Gai Wu, (4-0 with a game in hand), are in second on 20 points, and 3-1 Tigers are in third (15 points), with HKFC hanging on in fourth (10 points), ahead of Causeway Bay (5 points).  

Football Club emerged with its second win of the season after being handed Valley and Gai Wu back-to-back to open the year.  For a Club side enjoying an infusion of youth players this season the hard-fought experience seems to have paid lessons.

“At the draw, I was pulling my hair out,” said coach Wesley Feausi, “But, in hindsight, it has put us in very good stead especially the last two weeks [must-win games versus Tai Po and Causeway Bay].”

With several emerging National Age Grade players in the back line including Cathy Wong, playing at scrumhalf for Club, and Luciana Bolton at centre, who scored against Causeway Bay, the lessons are continuing each week, but they are rising to the challenge.

Feausi can also rely on an experienced forward pack which is firing on all cylinders with front rowers Cheryl Gourley and Fion Got both scoring early in the second half to put the game away, while the back row of Roshini Turner, Sophie Short and Nina Pirie, another try-scorer versus Phoenix, continue to gain metres.

“That is our game profile,” said Feausi, “we have a mobile, strong pack that gives us belief in our close game, our ball carries and an ability to maintain possession. They have stepped it up, which allows our three young players in the backline to learn without having to carry too much pressure.”

The expected arm wrestle at Football Club did not disappoint, with the two sides locked at just 10-7 at the break with Club enjoying the lead thanks to tries from flanker Pirie in the ninth minute and centre Bolton whose try in the 39th minute, bookended a Causeway Bay strike in the 32nd minute from hooker Chin Po-po, who converted her own score to give Phoenix a short-lived lead at 7-5.

“It mirrored last season’s games with them,” said Feausi.  “We scored early and then took our foot off the gas, allowed them to reply quickly and then got sucked into playing their game. Hoty Chan was really dictating the game well for them and it was a bit of a lucky break that she did not play in the second.

“Once we got back into playing our game plan we were able to have success in the second half,” he added.

The second half was all Football Club, with their influential front rowers Cheryl Gourley and Fion Got figuring early, on as they two tries within 12 minutes of each other to push Club’s lead to 20-7 entering the last quarter, before Rachel Fong iced the cake late with a fifth try to run out 25-7 winners.

“The girls are in a happy place right now and the top four is our goal. Now, we have to stick to what we know and play to our profile to keep a hold of fourth place and get ready for another big test in the last game of the ranking round against Tigers,” Feausi added.

Valley romped home to another big win, this time over HK Scottish, whose quick strike to open the game from Fung Yuen-ting were the first points scored on Valley this season – and the last for the game – as they improve their points differential to an incredible +219 after five matches.  After Fung’s try, it was business as usual in the Valley with six players scoring tries including a brace from Zoe Smith to swat away the challenge.

Gai Wu turned in an ominously balanced performance against Tai Po Dragons, scoring 22 points in either half to romp home 44-0 winners.  Tse Wing-Kiu and Chau Man-huen both scored two tries each, with Tse’s first tally coming at the end of a first half where two Dragons were sent off with yellow cards, tiring the defence for the second half.

Tigers’ emerging sevens stars took a bite out of Kowloon with Chloe Baltazar, who made her senior sevens debut in the recently completed Asian series, scoring after just two minutes to let Tigers out of the cage. Kowloon’s Paige Bailey levelled the scores mid-way through the half, but an immediate reply from Lara Schats and a later score from Winnie Siu quickly put Tigers back in charge a 15-5 at the break.

Two second half tries from another Tigers sevens star, Sarah Lucas, and a try from Cheung Hoi-ying pushed the score out to 37-5 before a penalty from Victoria Wong and a late score from Chan Hiu-tung brought the final to 37-13.