19 Dec 2018

Societe Generale Valley beat Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 29-12 last night at King’s Park in one of two Saxo Capital Market Premiership matches being played mid-week before the end of 2018. 


The win is the second on the trot for the defending Grand Champions, and moves them into second on the table, albeit possibly temporarily, with fourth-ranked Natixis HKFC having one more game to play this year against Kerry Hotel Kowloon at Sports Road on Thursday night.  


All three sides trail runaway leaders Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish – whose single loss on the season has them ten points ahead on the table with 34.


A Valley XV that forced itself into the conversation in a tense three-way race for runners-up on the table with a heavy win over Kowloon last weekend, took advantage of its opportunity against Tigers with a blistering first half effort that saw them mount an unassailable 29-0 lead after 37 minutes.


Most of the damage was done in the first quarter as Valley blitzed Tigers from the kick-off, camping in their half for most of the opening action.  A series of pitched battles on the try-line saw scrumhalf Ruan Duplooy claim the first try after only one minute and 12 seconds.  Further ties came through a brace from young winger Harry Sayers who continues his promising debut as one of the top finishers in this season’s Premiership.


Fullback Scott Davidson added two conversions to put Valley 29 points to the good before Tigers were able to get on the scoreboard on the stroke of half-time after a strong effort from Lawrence Miller penetrated the Valley defence.


The late tally was replicated in the second half when Calvin Hunter scored in the 72nd minute, with fullback Robbie Keith adding the conversion to bring Tigers’ total to 12 points. 


On the plus side for the home club was the fact that they prevented Valley from scoring in a tightly contested second half, but by then the damage had been done.


With six league rounds remaining after the competition resumes on 12 January, the battle for spots is heating up as only the top four teams advance to the Grand Championships in 2019.


Tigers coach Sam Hocking is pleased with his side’s overall position on the table, but worried about some slow starts creeping into the side, particularly over the last couple of matches, coinciding with the unavailability of their talismanic captain Josh Hrstich.


“It was pretty much like for like with the way we started the game previously on Saturday,” said Hocking after the match.


“There were some positives in the second half for the second week on the trot, but in this league there is no team that we can afford giving up 28 points to in the first half.”

“Overall, I’m happy to be in the top four at the break and hopefully we come back from Christmas and consolidate that position, but there is a bit of disappointment in the way that we have rolled into the holiday,” he said.


That sentiment is reversed for Valley coach Andrew Kelly who is finally seeing his side round into shape.


“We had a great first half and that obviously won us the game. We always knew it was going to be who was able to cope the best in these mid-week games, which are always a bit tricky, so we wanted to get that quick start.


“We backed a few guys to start and give us 60 minutes and knew we had guys like Nick Hewson and Toby Fenn to come off the bench and pinch it off,” said Kelly, who moved Richie Lewis onto the flank in the first half after playing him at centre against Kowloon last Saturday.


The move paid dividends with Lewis and the Valley back row haranguing the Tigers throughout. Lewis also managed to get into the scorebook with a try in the 36th minute to lift Valley’s lead to 29-nil after Davidson’s conversion.


“The last two games we have shown some form, but before that we have actually been fairly poor by our standards. We need to get better in the second half of the season.


“We need to improve our control as a 15 really. We are getting a bit heated and giving away silly penalties at silly times. A bit more composure will help us a bit.


“We would have like to have been more composed at the start of the season so that is still a bit of a work on for us; hopefully, we get to the finals and that’s where that composure really tells,” says Kelly of his side which is renowned for its late season pushes.