13 Jan 2020

Societe Generale Valley edged Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay 31-20 on Saturday to keep within striking distance of defending champions Natixis HKFC in the Saxo Markets Premiership. 


Football Club handed a heavy loss to Kerry Hotel Kowloon 54-10, while Bloomberg HK Scottish beat Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 32-12 in the third game of Super Saturday action to kick off 2020 and begin the final two weeks of the league season.


The results leave HKFC atop the table on 37 points, with a slim margin over Valley (35 points). Both have four wins against one loss and an unassailable lead on the peloton before their head to head clash to decide league honours next Saturday (18 January).


Next week’s undercard battle is equally intriguing with fourth placed Sandy Bay (20 points) hoping to leapfrog third ranked Scottish (23 points) when the two sides jockey for grand championship play-off positions next week.


Sandy Bay coach Brett Wilkinson, was left disappointed with the loss to Valley, particularly after what proved to be another close run affair for his side. 


“I feel there is still a lot more in us in terms of our performances and we can get a lot better, it is about being accurate and taking our chances when they are presented to us,”  he said.


For the most part his side was accurate but the challenge from Valley proved too much in the end.

Valley lead 17-6 after the opening half, with fullback Jack Metters accounting for Sandy Bay’s scoring from two successful penalties.


It was two tries for Valley in the opening half, with wrecking ball centre Peni Latu crashing over for the first before scrumhalf Ruan DuPlooy stretched the lead to 12-6 with his first half try.  Winger Kevin Field added a penalty on half-time to push the lead to 11 points at the break, 17-6.


Sandy Bay fought back brilliantly in the second half, despite conceding another early try to Valley this time to opposite winger Hugo Stiles who pushed the lead to 24 after scoring in the 50th minute.


Nik Cummings replied with a well taken try to close the gap to 13-24 after Metters conversion, before flanker Cole Mosychuk narrowed the margin further with his try closing the score to 20-24 after the extras were added by Metters.


Valley forward Ryan Campbell broke the deadlock in the 77th minute with a late try icing another win for Valley at 31-20.


Mosychuk’s emergence shows a renewed intensity at Sandy Bay according to Wilkinson, who said, “competition for starting places has ramped up as everyone wants to be involved come the business end of the season.”


Work will need to continue for Sandy Bay as they prepare for Scottish next week. Wilkinson understands the gravity of that game but is focused on drilling down on his team’s performance as they look to make another late charge in the grand championships.


“Yes we need to win but when you strip it all back it is about individuals doing and knowing their roles and being accurate in those roles.  Its all about us and our performance,” he added.


It was a somewhat slow start to the new year for the defending league champions Football Club, as Kowloon held them to a 12-3 arm wrestle in the opening half, with Jack Neville scoring a first penalty for Kowloon before Glyn Hughes added four down the first half stretch.


Kowloon prop James Holmes crossed over for an early second half try to push the score to 12-10 after 42 minutes before Club opened up in the second, showing their dangerous bench depth once again.


Pierce Mackinlay-West, Jonty Wood, Ben Axten-Burrett, Campbell Wakely, Jevon Groves and Eremia Tapsell all ran in scores in the final half hour as Club secured the bonus point win to keep level with Valley.


An entertaining first half in the third game saw Scottish leading Tigers 14-12 at half-time before powering through behind tries from winger Conor Hartley and fullback Sean Taylor (his second) in the final stanza put them home 32-12 to keep them in contention for a place in the final four.