NEW LOOK KROLL USRC TIGERS BACK TO OLD WINNING WAYS

30 Sep 2021


Kroll USRC Tigers are celebrating all things new this Dettol Hong Kong Rugby Premiership season with new sponsors, coaches and players helping return the Club to their traditional winning ways. Tigers’ promising opening to the season will be put to the test on Saturday when Tigers host Societe Generale at King’s Park. The Dettol Men’s Premiership game of the week kicks off at 15.00, followed by the Dettol Women’s Premiership match at 18.00.

Through two rounds of both Premierships, Tigers are in enviable position, with the Women’s XV at the top of the table, and one of two remaining undefeated teams – with Valley the other.

The men are making strides under new coach Lewis Evans and the addition of a quartet of Hong Kong stars including two Liams (Slatem and Herbert) and the brothers Parfitt, Jack and Mike, this off-season. Herbert and fellow Hong Kong Sevens star Cado Lee have been unavailable so far after playing for Hong Kong in Canada, where Herbert scored 10 tries over two HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series events.

Departures include the Hrstich brothers, Josh and Zach, to HKFC, while former coach Sam Hocking is now with Valley, Tigers’ opponents on Saturday.

Under Evans, that recruited firepower has seamlessly gelled with a talented core at the club and Tigers are currently in third behind undefeated Natixis HFKC and DAC Kowloon. They opened the season with a 30-22 win over KPMG HK Scottish, but let one slip against Kowloon in round 2, after leading 17-0 late in the half, only to leak 14 points before the break. They lost a footrace to the finish with Kowloon posting 20 second half points against Tigers’ 17 to win 34-30.

The challenge intensifies as they host perennial contenders Valley, who enter with a 1-1 record after a loss to HKFC and a win over Scottish last Saturday. A young Valley side looking to find its footing and one step behind on the league ladder, will be intent on climbing the ranks at Tigers expense.

“They are a good outfit, they are new, there is a lot of new energy there, so it’s going to be quite tricky,” said Valley head coach Mark Fatialofa.

“But our forwards went really well last week and Sam [ex Tigers head coach Hocking] has brought a renewed focus on our set piece; slowly but surely we’re getting there, I know we have another gear to find, because the quality we have here is too good, but we have to bring it out.”

Since arriving this summer, Evans has gradually introduced his approach, “I have had the opportunity to bounce my ideas off the group, and get a better understanding of the club dynamics.

 

 

“I’ll walk before I run, and I want to understand our strengths better so we can build from them, but a priority for me is integrating our Prem A side, getting them more involved and getting them more opportunities.

“As far as I’m concerned, I have a couple of seasons to continue developing the Tigers to be competitive and to win a championship and a league cup. I also want to facilitate the coach and player pathway, and when I leave, whether that is in two or ten years or whatever, I aim to have that in place.”

In the Dettol Women’s Premiership, Kroll USRC Tigers will be out to maintain their hard earned top spot when they defend their home pitch against Valley. Tigers hold a one point lead on the table after collecting bonus points in every outing, and are in first with nine points to second placed Valley’s eight.

With internationals from Asia and Oceania dotted around the park, Valley are looking more dangerous by the outing for coach Bella Milo: “We’re gelling and the players are getting that hunger back. We need it because the standard is getting very strong, all of the teams are improved this year. Tigers are up next, and we know it will be a tough game. We know where we need to improve from the first two weeks, and we need to be stronger at the breakdown for sure. The breakdown will be massively important against Tigers.”

Tigers have had a hot start, conceding only a single try in two games, while posting 46 points. Convincing wins against Gai Wu and Kowloon have been challenging, but Valley is the ultimate tester for this club, after the two teams have traded Grand Championship titles in the past two seasons.

The first of three Premiership games between these two favourites should shed much light on the question of who has the upper hand in the Dettol Women’s Premiership.

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