04 Dec 2021

Kroll USRC Tigers beat KPMG HK Scottish 35-31 behind a 25- point second half to secure a bonus point win and escape the Premiership cellar while ImpactHK HKU Sandy Bay erased a 12-0 deficit early on to produce a four-try bonus point in the first half before overwhelming DAC Kowloon, 43-24. In the finale, Natixis HKFC handed Societe Generale Valley a 50-12 loss as the six Dettol Premiership clubs generated 199 points on a high-scoring Super Saturday.

Scottish led 16-10 at half with both teams enjoying their opportunities, but the defences were largely unyielding until late. The score was 6-3 after ten minutes with two penalties from Scottish fullback Sean Taylor and a reply from opposing 15 Jacob Myers. With neither side able to break down the defence, the opening five-pointer was destined to be unstructured. It was that and more as Scottish wing Nicolas Bett knocked on and recovered his bobble mid-air. Bett found James Christie on the inside line but the scrumhalf was wrapped quickly. Lock Vincent O’Connell collected to bring the attack to the line before he was felled; what looked to be a knock on was judged to have been kicked ahead and the ball came to rest over the line where Taylor dove on it.

Tigers replied with a series of phases on the Scottish line, finally scoring from a five-metre scrum with captain Lawrence Miller picking cleanly from the base to cross for the score. Myers’ conversion closed the gap to 13-10. Tigers wing Taumafai Komiti was sent to the sin-bin for not wrapping in the tackle before the break giving Scottish an advantage late. They mustered a penalty through Taylor to push the gap to 16-10 at the interval.

Scottish wasted no time in the second half using their numbers advantage to push the lead to 23-10 with a try to prop Ben Nelson after the restart. The conversion brought the score to 23-10.

From there it was all Tigers as they struck for 22 unanswered points. Wing Mak Kwai-Chung had a great second stanza, partnering well with Liam Slatem to inject pace and vision into the attack. The purple patch for Tigers started with a penalty from Myers, bringing the score to 23-13, before tries from Ryan Sprigg and Liam Edwards gave Tigers their first lead at 25-23. Shortly thereafter, Mak found wing Tomos Howells with an outrageous looping outlet pass to help his teammate cross over untouched. Tigers pushed their lead to 32-23.

Scottish made things tense late with a penalty from Taylor closing the gap to within a try at 32-26 with 15 minutes left. Player coach Peter Jericevich added impetus to his side from off the bench when he produced a perfectly weighted pass in traffic to cue a pretty try by the Scottish backline with Christie deposited across the line to close the gap to 32-31.

Threatening a fifth one point finish on the season, Scottish instead conceded critical penalties late, allowing Myers to slot a final penalty and put Tigers in the win column 35-31. Both sides claimed bonus points with Tigers scoring four or more tries, while Scottish finished within seven.

Tigers Director of Rugby Lewis Evans was checking his pulse afterwards but was relieved with the win: “The game didn't go as we wanted it to, we made it hard work but we did what we came to do. Scottish performed really well, and I am relieved with the win, which was needed.

The bonus point was encouraging for Evans, “To score some of those tries the way we did, you know, seeing the tight head and second row combine out wide – that’s what we’re trying to get to; it’s a mind- set and will take us a little while. We definitely had some outcomes from what we worked on this week, so it was a positive result, even it if was a difficult one for a coach to watch,” added Evans.

Tries were not wanting in the match between Kowloon and Sandy Bay either, with the teams combining for six scores in the first half before adding four more in the second as Sandy Bay ran out 43-24 winners.

Kowloon wing Huw Alexander staked his side out to a 12-0 lead with a brace of tries in the first 10 minutes. Soon after, Sandy Bay made their first visit to the Kowloon half count with a try through lock Ashton Hyde. They then made themselves at home, with follow-on scores from fellow forwards in ex- Hong Kong captain Simon Leung (his second in as many games) and Joseph Walding, to push the score to 21-12 with the conversions from centre Gair Currie.

Currie collected his own try shortly before the break, running Sandy Bay’s unanswered point streak to 28 after the conversion with ‘The Bay collecting a key first half bonus point as they led 28-12 after 40.

The visitors piled on in the second half when an overthrown lineout went their way. Sandy Bay nine Brendon Nell finished the attack at the opposite end of the pitch after showing good strength to run through a defender’s tackle. Currie missed the conversion but Sandy Bay led comfortably 33-12. Currie added a penalty minutes later to push the lead to 36-12 inside the last 20.

Kowloon staunched the bleeding but failed to come away with points from their opportunities despite enjoying significant territorial advantage in the second period. Sandy Bay produced turnovers in key moments to keep Kowloon from threatening.

Kowloon’s first points of the second stanza came from a beautiful try engineered by player coach Joe Barker and finished by James Piercy. Barker started the attack with a wonderful take off a chip and chase. He quickly shuttled the pill inside on a no-look pass to keep the attack flowing. Supporting on the next phase, Barker stood off in the line to take the ball as first receiver from a ruck, immediately putting it on the foot into space for Piercy whose score closed the gap to 17-36.

Currie dashed Kowloon’s dreams on the next play, taking a hand off from Luke van der Smit in the red zone to collect his brace after scampering through traffic as Sandy Bay led 43-17. Barker then stepped up again, this time finding winger Fong Kit-fung out wide with the outlet pass. Fong worked the ball back inside for Alexander who finished his hat trick easily to bring Kowloon to 43-22.

While the game was never in doubt, Alexander’s tally gave Kowloon a needed bonus point as they held on to second place on a day when Tigers, Scottish and Sandy Bay - all behind them on the log - collected bonus points.

Sandy Bay coach Will Webster was happy with his side’s performance saying, “I am pleased with how we responded to going down early. I’d rather we didn’t go down 12-0 at all, but that resilience, and coming back into it gives us a lot of belief. The forwards did an incredible job up front to give us the platform. We are disappointed with giving up that bonus point, but there is a tremendous amount we can take from the game. Kowloon have beaten us twice and now we beat them pretty convincingly so it’s a step forward in what we have been working on,” Webster added.

As testament to how tight this season’s Dettol Premiership is, Valley started Super Saturday in third and were in fifth by the kick off of the finale as they faced league leaders HKFC. That position was cemented after 80 minutes as Valley fell to a heavy 50-12 loss.

A win over Club means more than any other in the Valley and lock Chris Allman showed that passion early on after charging down a clearance kick from Jamie Lauder to score in the corner. The conversion was wide but Valley led 5-0.

Football Club controlled the rest of the game, and Valley did their best to help them along. HKFC fullback Niall Rowark was given five penalty opportunities from the tee in the opening half, slotting all to give Club a 15-5 lead before the blue and whites notched their first try. That came from another Hong Kong international in the HKFC backline, Jamie Hood.

After a kicking volley had seemingly lulled the Valley defence to sleep, Hood collected the high ball and scythed through the middle of the field - and the middle of the defence - to push play to the try-line before offloading to Gabriel Carroll for the score as Club led 22-5. A second Valley defensive lapse, this time at a lineout deep in their half, saw Lauder add a try with Rowark’s conversion pushing the margin to 29-5 at half time.

HKFC kept the hammer down in the second half, attacking from any angle, while Valley were still plagued by a lack of accuracy in execution. Rowark added a sixth penalty to start the second stanza, and keep Valley further back, 32-5. Valley’s second try came off an attacking lineout with the red and black pack collecting safely to set a strong platform for an onslaught of crash ball.

Valley recycled well for four phases before fly half Tom Smith found the gap for the try. He converted his own score to close the gap to 32-12. Valley grew in self-belief and aggression after that, but they were again let down by penalties and miscues, particularly at the lineout.

Meanwhile HKFC made sure of nearly every one of their attacking opportunities down the stretch, especially from set piece, converting an attacking lineout five metres from the Valley line. That led to a score on the far side for Rowark in support play. He could not convert, but Club had grown their lead to 37-12 while Rowark brought his personal tally to 27 points for the game. The margin increased that further with two more tries to Jack Abbott and Pene Smith to bring up the half ton for the Sports Roaders as they won 50-12.

The 62 points in the finale brought the day’s total to 199 points scored as Santa brought tries a plenty in his bag for Super Saturday. The convincing win helped HKFC increase their lead on the league with the bonus point win pushing them to 42 points, ahead of Kowloon on 26, Sandy Bay on 22, Tigers on 19 and Valley and Scottish bringing up the back on 19 each.