TOUGH DAY FOR TOP TEAMS IN SAXO MARKETS PREMIERSHIP

19 Oct 2019

It was a tough day for the two top sides in the Saxo Markets Premiership as Societe Generale Valley and Natixis HKFC suffered last-second losses to Kerry Hotel Kowloon and Bloomberg HK Scottish respectively.

 

Kowloon claimed their first win of the Premiership season at Kings Park after beating Valley 20-17 behind a try to fullback Jack Neville in the final minute.

 

Hosts Scottish beat HKFC late to cap a seesaw second half in a game with four lead changes. Scrumhalf Mark Coebergh crossed the whitewash in the 73rd minute for the game-winner to put Scottish through 20-17 after the conversion from fly half Gregor McNeish.

 

The win at Shek Kip Mei puts Scottish on top of the table with eight points, while Valley slips to second on six points, and HKFC fall into third on five. Kowloon’s first win moves them into tied fourth with Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay (4 points) with Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers in sixth.

 

Kowloon trailed Valley 14-10 after a tightly contested first half.  The scoring did not start until after 30 minutes when the hosts benefited from some loose passing by Valley with their backs to the try-line.  Flanker Cris Pierrepont was rewarded for his quick rush defence as the ball bounced right into his hands a pace away from the line for the opening score. Fly half Jack Hughes’ conversion put Kowloon up 7-0.

 

Valley replied with a try of its own after Kowloon centre Lewis Warner was pinged for hands in the ruck on his 22, letting Valley kick deep to the corner for an attacking lineout. The resulting driving maul put a mass of bodies across the line with Ben Higgins controlling at the back for the try.  Matt Rosslee’s conversion levelled the scores at 7-all approaching half time.

 

Kowloon brought the attack back into the visitors’ end to force a penalty after Valley was pinged for multiple infringements in a defensive ruck. Hughes made sure from 30 metres out to give his side a 10-7 advantage and seemingly take the momentum into the break, but Valley winger Harry Sayers scored a late try.

Sayers’ score came when Valley was awarded the advantage from an attacking scrum straight 20 metres from the Kowloon posts. Captain Rob Lennox collected well from the back of the scrum and found Sayers cutting against the angle of attack. Sayers made the defence pay for arm tackling as he ran in for the score, with Rosslee’s conversion giving Valley the lead, 14-10, at half time.

 

Valley would only account for three points in the second half, those coming from a Matthew Rosslee penalty after two minutes to push the gap to 17-10.  

 

Kowloon replied again, pushing the attack into Valley’s red zone and forcing penalties. Hughes slotted his second goal from 40 metres to narrow the gap to 17-13 with 15 minutes left.

 

With fatigue setting in, the last minutes were disorganized, as both teams struggled to hold on to the ball down the stretch. In the 77th minute, a Valley error handed possession back to Kowloon for an attacking lineout.  

Kowloon scrumhalf Bryn Phillips did well to control the ball off the top, dodging the onrushing Lennox before loosing his backline with an outlet pass to dangerous fullback Jack Neville, who eluded two Valley defenders before releasing the ball to centre Lewis Warner.

 

It looked as if Warner would die with the ball after he carried straight into contact, despite Neville looping wide, but Warner managed to muscle out of the tackle and offload to Neville, who finished the last five metres to the line for a swan-dive try to give Kowloon an 18-17 lead. Hughes pushed that to 20-17 with his conversion and despite Valley making at least 20 rushes at the Kowloon line late, the defence held out for the win.

 

It was a stop-start first half at Shek Kip Mei with both teams contributing nine penalties in the opening ten minutes as the game lumbered from set piece to set piece for much of the opening half.  The score was tight after forty minutes as HKFC held a slim 7-3 advantage.

 

Club fly half Glyn Hughes had a rough day with the boot, perhaps caused by the unusual gridiron posts at Shek Kip Mei, as he missed three penalty shots on the day, including his first shot after five minutes from 49 metres out.  

 

Home fly half Gregor McNeish started positively, striking his first chance well from 22 metres in the eighth minute to give Scottish a 3-0 lead.

 

Referee Tim Baker, frustrated from the outset at the high penalty count, sent a Scottish player to the bin for pulling down the lineout in the 27th minute, with Scottish still up by three. Football Club No. 8 Sam Pym scored the game’s first try from the ensuing advantage, after HKFC kicked for the lineout.

 

Club took the ball cleanly and put on an 8-man shove for the try-line, taking advantage of the extra forward in their pack. The backline soon clubbed in and a 12-man drive put Pym over; Hughes was good from close range as Club took a 7-3 lead into halftime.

 

The second half was more fluid but still hampered by penalties. Hughes missed his second chance from the tee in the 42nd minute, this time surprisingly from close range.  In the 50th minute Club were penalized for wheeling the scrum, giving McNeish another shot. He was accurate from 35 metres as Scottish clawed back to within a point, 7-6, with 30 minutes left.

 

Five minutes later it was Hughes’ chance again, and this time he found his range to push the lead back to 10-6 to Football Club.

 

With time slipping away, Scottish earned an attacking scrum in the shadow of Club’s posts. A strong shove helped Scottish angle Kane Boucaut towards the left corner where he scored after a five-metre carry. McNeish’s conversion was good and Scottish reclaimed the lead, 13-10, with 20 minutes left.

 

The last quarter saw the game open up in loose play, and Hughes was the first beneficiary, finishing off an attacking kick over the defence from fullback Eremia Tapsell for the try. Hughes’ conversion brought the score to 15-13 in favour of the visitors.

 

Time looked to be running out on Scottish, but they dug deep again to produce another solid period of pressure, ultimately turning a Club lineout over near midfield. Boucaut scrambled onto the bouncing ball to clean up the mess for scrumhalf Mark Coebergh, who found McNeish who produced a nifty inside ball for Ty Turner who penetrated the second level of the Club defence.

Turner offloaded to fullback Sean Taylor in space. He directed traffic well; positioning his young sidekick Mark Coebergh for the final offload and the game winning try in the corner to push Scottish ahead at 18-15. McNeish ran the final score to 20-15 with his conversion as the lead changed hands for a fourth time.  

 

Scottish then held off a furious assault by Club on their try-line in the final five minutes as time expired.

 

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