08 Oct 2017

The top of the KPMG Women’s Premiership is taking on a familiar look as Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers hauled themselves into third place with a 27-0 win over Kowloon Ladies in the Game of the Week yesterday. Above them sit Societe Generale Valley and then Gai Wu ECO Lifestyle Fitness, after respective wins over SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay Phoenix (58-0) and Comvita City Sparkle (27-10). The fourth game saw Natixis Hong Kong Football Club Ice leapfrog Transact 24 Tai Po Dragons with a 29-5 home win over the league returnees.

In a game that featured determined attacking by both sides, it was Tigers’ sharp finishing at the business end of the pitch that hadthem quickly run up a lead that Kowloon could not match. Yet both managers found much room for improvement as all teams target a top-four position at the mid-season break, after which the Premiership eightplay in sub-groups of four in the run-up to the Grand Championships.

“It was a good win for us, with four tries scored [for the bonuspoint].There was a lot of running rugby, which I encourage, aiming to play into space,” said Tigers coach Fan Shun Kei.

“It was quite a balanced game – I give credit to Kowloon, who pushed us throughout. But we scored when we had opportunities.”

Tigers front-rower Ho Wing Lam had the ball over the line for five points in the third minute, and further scores from teenage full back Hebe Talas and Hong Kong veteran Lai Pou-fan in the middle of the half ratcheted up a solid 19-0 lead, thanks to conversions by Charlotte Myrans.

With a penalty taking the half-time score out to 22-0, a degree of comfort might be expected from the Tigers’ management, but coach Fan was having none of it.

“We made too many mistakes out there and really need to improve our handling. I’m looking forward putting that right when we take on the other teams in the weeks ahead.We need to strengthen our scrum, which has been a bit unstable for two or three seasons. And we need to execute better,” he said.

“When we were put under pressure, we struggled a little bit. Some new players are still adapting to the intensity of the higher level game.”

Fan credited Talas for her skilful play and hard work to set up a lot of the team’spositive moves, and prop Wong Yuen Shan for themomentum she brought to forwards’ game.

Kowloon coach Jonathan Ho rues that three competitive performances have generated just one pointfor his sidebut highlighted some positives against a strong team.

“The lack of scoring by us was down to our inability to execute in their 22. We were making simple errors at critical times – like a knock-on the try area when we could have scored,” he observes.

“But overall it was a fairly even game.Both teams played well in the midfield and there was pressure at both ends. Tigers also made mistakes in theirhalf but we could not capitalise on them.

“Plus, our forwards did well, keeping up pressure and winning a few of [Tigers’] scrums.

“Tigers were just a lot better at taking their chances.We need to do better in that final execution rather than just giving the ball back.”

Ho was glad to haveMaggie Au Yeung backwith the team, and also had compliments for prop Yip Cho Kwan and for his new young signing Stephanie Ching, who he says, “has an attacking mind andpowerful kicking skills that got us out of trouble a few times.”