16 Nov 2020

Bloomberg HK Scottish lost 17-10 to DAC Kowloon in Saturday’s Saxo Markets Premiership game of the week at King’s Park. Societe Generale Valley outlasted Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 19-8 in the late game in Kowloon, while Natixis HKFC edged Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay at home, 19-10.


A shock start stunted Scottish’s hopes early on as they lost new signing and London Scottish centre Dean Squire to injury from the kick-off. Matters worsened minutes later when captain Josh Dowsing was sin-binned after infringing at a Kowloon ruck on the Scottish try-line. With Scottish without their No.8, an already significant Kowloon advantage at the scrum grew more convincing.


Kowloon put its first points on the board through flanker Phil Whitfield who finished a driving scrum on Scottish’s five metres with the opening try. Jack Neville added the conversion to push Kowloon ahead 7-0 after seven minutes. It was more of the same after Dowsing returned, as Kowloon used a booming kick to touch from Bryn Phillips to position a second drive to the Scottish line. Whitfield was again the man coming up with the points as he collected his brace after just 17 minutes, with a second conversion from Neville putting Kowloon ahead 14-0.


Despite Kowloon being positioned for a convincing win Scottish clawed their way back in impressive style. Dowsing made amends for his binning with a crucial tap and go from a Kowloon offside metres from the sticks. He did well to work the ball back to his side where a quick pass found centre Mike Green on a devastating inside run to score just inside the pads. Gregor McNeish’s conversion pulled Kowloon to within a try of the lead at 14-7.  McNeish added the first points of the second half with his on-target penalty bringing the game to 14-10 at the hour marker.  


Lewis Warner and Jack Neville helped dispel the Kowloon malaise as they paired to produce some cutting runs in the final quarter, two of which set up Neville with penalties in kickable range. He was good on the first to push the lead back to a converted try 17-10 inside the last 10 minutes. Neville missed a second shot that could have sealed the game, setting up an exciting finish with the match hanging in the balance.


It looked as if Scottish had turned the tables on the hosts with a late break from deep creating a three-on-one overlap - only to have Kane Boucaut’s outlet pass called back for being forward. Kowloon grimly hung on to seal the win and get to .500 on the season, while Scottish fell to 0-2.


Despite being on the losing end, Scottish coach Craig Hammond was upbeat post-game; “A lot better performance than last week, if you take away the first 10 minutes. It’s not good to lose, but as a coach, you can’t ask for more effort than the boys gave today. They put in a big shift, given we were down to 14 on a few occasions.


“It was a bit of a horror start and we had to adapt to being 14-nil down early. They only scored another penalty for the rest of the game after that, so it was a really good defensive effort. They got into our 22 a lot, but couldn’t come away with any tries. We can learn from that, and have a few guys coming back next week, which will help the club a lot. From an attitude and intensity perspective it is one of the best physical performances I have ever seen at the club.”

Kowloon coach Scott Sneddon was relieved with the victory, but frustrated with the performance. “Happy, but still disappointed with our performance. It’s a win at the end of the day, but we couldn’t have started any better. We should have kicked on from being up early, but we put ourselves under pressure with unforced errors and mistakes.


“We probably hit the panic button when we didn’t need to. When we had ball, we looked dangerous, but we tended to slow things down a bit too much and that allowed them to back in. They fought right to the end and to only allow them 10 points is a good effort defensively given they have threats all over. I just think we were too conservative in the last 60 minutes.


“That was frustrating. We need to mix our game up a bit and to have more variety and variation in our play. But there are a lot of positives. We shut them out for long periods and to only give up 10 to a side with so many threats was pleasing, but now we need to take it up another notch.”

Hammond also believe his side could have settled in a bit more. “We probably tried to play to much rugby. Once our 9s and 10s controlled the game a bit more, we settled. With Jack Neville and Lewis Warner they can score from anywhere, so kicking to the right areas was big for us.”


There will be a fair share of disappointment all around after another weekend of clubs and players adjusting to a late start to the year.


Valley will be looking for a more convincing statement of their aspirations next weekend after Tigers pushed them to the limit before losing 19-8 today - a loss that leaves Tigers without a point to show for one of the best league performances a second week running.


HKFC can thank Glyn Hughes for being the difference maker in a scrappy 19-10 win. Hughes accounted for 14 of his side’s 19 points with four penalties and a single conversion for the hosts, who were outscored in the try stakes 2-1 by Sandy Bay.


The visitors trailed 19-0 in the final 10 minutes before five-pointers from Dean Rossouw and Nick Cummings brought them to within a converted score of a bonus point for a loss within seven.  Captain Gair Currie’s effort just drifted wide across the goal face, dropping Sandy Bay to 1-1 on the season.   


After two rounds of Saxo Markets Premiership action, HKFC and Valley are on top of the table with 8 points; Kowloon is in third on five followed by Sandy Bay with four and Scottish, which salvaged the bonus this afternoon to claim its first point ahead of Tigers.