12 Dec 2015

Societe Generale Valley ensured its perfect streak would continue into 2016 after beating Natixis Hong Kong Football Club 13-7 today in Happy Valley. Leighton Asia Hong Kong Cricket Club scored seven tries in their 43-23 win over USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers 43-23 in today’s late match, while Sabre Kowloon picked up its second win of the year after beating Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish 35-17 last night.

Football Club pushed valley to the margins in a bruising back-and-forth affair in Happy Valley. The hosts took an early lead - and built upon it - off the accurate boot of fly half Ben Rimene. Rimene gave his side their first points with a penalty from 45 metres out in the early going, before lock Adam Campbell scored Valley’s only try mid-way through the half. A beautifully struck conversion from the touchline by Rimene added the extras, and Rimene notched a second penalty later to give Valley a 13-0 lead at half time.

Football Club looked dangerous throughout the match but their frustrations mounted as they failed to convert numerous opportunities. In the second half, both sides elevated the intensity even further with neither side able to assert a clear advantage. Some heavy tackling on both sides of the ball re-confirmed that the historic rivalry between the two sides remains alive and well.

Club had more opportunities in the second half, particularly after Jimmy Richards and Niall Rowark came off the bench, speeding up play for the visitors, but Valley’s defence held up. Club was equally strong behind the ball, keeping Valley scoreless in the second half.

Late in the match, Football Club No.8 Trevor Conneely capitalized off a good line-break by the backs to score from in close. Hood’s quick conversion brought the score to 13-7 as Football Club threatened to steal the game away. Conneely’s try was a good reward for the efforts of the Club pack. The Club forwards put on a brave performance, despite losing replacement prop John McCoppin to injury after having only just come on in the second half and finishing the contest a man-down after reserve hooker Mitch Andrews was sin-binned in the 70th minute.

But Valley found the eight-man shove when they most needed it, folding the Club eight on a few key scrums at both ends of the park this afternoon. The tight play has been a key factor in Valley’s success, with front rowers Ben Higgins, Dayne Jans and Grant Kemp proving a formidable obstacle in the early going, with Valley’s second wave featuring Hong Kong props Alex Ng Wai Shing and Leon Wei Hon Sum (who returned to action after a lengthy injury lay-off this afternoon) and the hard-nosed Andrew Kelly proving a killer blow for most opponents.

Club’s afternoon looked over when Andrews was binned for stamping, but Conneely’s try - with his side a man down - gave the visitors renewed hope trailing by six with three minutes left. But Club couldn’t close the gap as Valley escaped with the 13-7 win. Football Club picked up the bonus point for a loss within seven points for their fine effort this afternoon.

At King’s Park, last year’s league champions Hong Kong Cricket Club found its rhythm after a tough start to the season, scoring seven tries in a wild 43-23 win over USRC Tigers.

HKCC had its first points almost from kick-off with centre Duncan Emslie crossing over for the first of two tries this afternoon. Fullback Alex McQueen’s conversion was successful, giving HKCC a short-lived 7-0 lead, as Tigers replied with two quick penalties - both struck by fly half Liam Gallagher to close the gap to one point. Flanker Bill Brant extended HKCC’s lead late in the half. McQueen’s conversion gave HKCC a 14-6 lead at the break.

In the second half, the Cricket Club fifteen worked off their frustrations with a three-try explosion in the opening ten minutes. Prop Rohan Cook started the scoring, crossing over on the resumption of play. Emslie collected his brace shortly thereafter - securing the bonus point for Cricket Club - followed by winger Jamie Robinson. McQueen could only convert the last leaving HKCC ahead 31-6.

Tigers replied with their first try of the match. Gallagher’s conversion left them trailing 31-13, but HKCC captain Ben Roberts put paid to any hopes of a comeback with a try in quick reply as he took the ball from a rolling maul to extend HKCC’s lead to 38-13 after McQueen’s conversion.

The game truly opened up in the last stages as Liam Gallagher kept up the heroics for Tigers, scoring his side’s second try of the match to bring the hosts to 31-18 after his conversion hit the upright. Moments later, Rowan Varty made a beautiful run from his own 22 before offloading to Hong Kong sevens teammate Alex McQueen for HKCC’s seventh try.

McQueen’s conversion was unsuccessful but the Cricketers had already hit the Tigers for six s they enjoyed a commanding 43-18 lead. Tigers' winger Eric Kwok Pak Nga collected the game’s last score and the third try in the last ten minutes finalizing as Cricket Club romped home 43-23.

In this week’s Friday night match, Kowloon made it two for two from its most recent outings, collecting just its second win on the year with a convincing 35-17 result over Scottish. Kowloon led 25-14 at the half after a seven-minute scoring spree saw them collect 17 points.

Kowloon were trailing Scottish before the scoring run after David Whiteford - stepping into the breach once again for the injury-hit Scots - marked his 51st cap for the club with a try in the 19th minute. Charles Cheung’s conversion gave Scottish an 8-3 lead after Kowloon fly-half Daniel Fleming opened the scoring with an 11th minute penalty.

But Scottish’s hopes for a pre-Christmas win were dashed by a ruthless Kowloon attack that saw winger Shaun McManus cross over moments after Whiteford. Minutes later, No.8 Rory Martyn-Smith scored with Fleming’s conversion extending Kowloon’s lead to 15-7.

Centre Lewis Warner soon broke free to score shortly before half time. Fleming’s conversion extended the margin to 22-7 and he added second penalty before the whistle to push Kowloon ahead 25-7. Fleming notched 12 points in the first half and added a third penalty and another conversion in the second for 17 points.

Scottish scored what could have been a momentum try in injury time through Ben Tyler with Cheung’s conversion bringing the score to 25-14 at half time.

After the break both sides exchanged early penalties with Scottish narrowing the gap to 28-17. Kowloon collected the bonus point in the 66th minute after centre Jack Neville crossed the line. Fleming’s conversion brought the final score to 35-17 for a resurgent Kowloon.

At the mid-season break, Valley are perched atop the Premiership table with 39 points from nine straight wins, followed by Tigers on 20 and HKFC on 19. Cricket Club’s bonus point bash of Tigers elevates them to fourth in the standings (17), ahead of Scottish (16) and Kowloon (11). HKCC and Kowloon still have a game in hand on the rest of the league after their tie a fortnight ago was rained out.

In HKRU Women’s Premiership action CPM Gai Wu Falcons beat Causeway Bay 19-10, while Natixis HKFC beat Kowloon 22-10. Societe Generale Valley kept pace with the boys in maintaining their undefeated streak after beating USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers 38-7.

Several of the players from today's Premiership action are departing tonight for Spain as the Hong Kong Women's XVs prepare for their first ever international test series versus non-Asian opposition next week in Madrid.