17 Oct 2015

Societe Generale Valley, Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish and Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers all collected convincing wins in Round three of the HKRU Premiership.

The most surprising result of the day came in Happy Valley as the hosts Valley vanquished an under-strength HKCC XV, 25-0. It was the widest margin of victory between the two sides in recent seasons after both played each other to a standstill on several occasions, including the Grand Championship final, last year.

Valley came out the better in the match despite struggling to play to their intended pattern and losing three players to yellow cards in the second half. A high penalty count marred the match, in addition to the second half sin-binnings of Valley lock Tom Broughton (failing to wrap in the tackle) and flanker Toby Fenn and Khrist Kopetzky (both for repeated infringing).

HKCC gave up its fair share of penalties, with the most egregious coming in the first half when a series of Valley attacking scrums on the HKCC try-line were nullified by HKCC infringements. Referee Matt Stodden ultimately awarded the penalty try, which was converted by Reece Hamon mid-way through the first half. Hamon added two penalties earlier in the half to give his side a 13-0 lead at the break.

HKCC’s hopes were set back further after captain and hooker Ben Roberts limped off with an injury early on in the match. To that point, HKCC had been controlling the ball well at the breakdown and seemed to be playing better pattern rugby than Valley.

The loss of Roberts compounded HKCC’s injury woes with its sevens stars Rowan Varty, Alex McQueen and Tom McQueen all resting on the sidelines ahead of the Central Coast Sevens in Australia next weekend. Hong Kong flanker Matthew Lamming was also sidelined with injury for the crucial tie in the Valley.

In the second half, Valley settled their game marginally, but some poor decision-making kept them from cementing their lead. The Valley XV never seemed to gel until the pressure of playing man-down rugby started to unite them in what proved to be an impressive defensive effort. Valley played huge swathes of the second half down a man and for awhile down two men against Cricket Club.

Frustration crept in for the Cricketers as they could not penetrate Valley’s wall defence to make the advantage pay. Not only did Valley’s defensive effort keep HKCC scoreless, the hosts turned the tables on the HKCC attack to score twice while man down. Both tries were finished by reserve Khrist Kopetzky and both came from broken play where Valley looked more dangerous throughout the afternoon.

“It was a scrappy game with a lot of errors from both sides, but I am happy with the result. You have to be when you put up 25 points on a team like Cricket Club,” said Valley coach Jack Isaac. “We scored a couple of good tries and broke through in the midfield a couple of times, which was encouraging, but there was a lot of mistakes from both sides.

“We talked about making the Valley a fortress this year and the guys have really bought into that and they showed a lot of character at the end to hold HKCC off. Our defensive effort was really strong and that was encouraging, but our game management needs to improve. Going into the second half, I was afraid we might let them back in the game. We need to be more clinical in that area and how we handle our leads.

“We need to work on our discipline obviously,” Isaac added. “We have talked about it already this season and have started a kitty for yellow cards which is getting bigger by the week. We will need to obviously address it again in training. It is disappointing.”

Valley also welcomed back former Hong Kong centre Ally Maclay marking his season debut with some characteristic hard running in the second half after returning from the United Kingdom.

HKCC coach Deacon Manu was left ruing some missed opportunities, particularly in the first half with the Cricketers looked to establish some momentum.

“We didn't take our opportunities to get points in the first half and we let ourselves down with our inconsistineces. We need to nail those things at this level. In the second half, we managed to retain the ball in key areas, but we couldn’t get through their defence, because of our own lack of execution primarily, although Valley defended extremely well. They put us under good pressure at the ruck area and we need to be better than that.”

Hong Kong Scottish also posted a comprehensive 46-19 win over Hong Kong Football Club, scoring seven tries at Shek Kip Mei on their home opener. Co-captain and No.8 Kane Boucaut and fullback Ben Cullen spurred Scottish’s winning margin with each collecting a brace of tries today.

Flyhalf Mike Moeahu, reserve fullback Ben Tyler and winger Robert Cleary added Scottish’s other tries as they successfully defended the Broony Quaich at home. Charles Cheung added four conversions and a penalty in a game where Football Club never threatened Scottish’s lead.

The glut of tries continues Hong Kong Scottish’s potent offensive display this season, after they routed HKCC last week in Aberdeen scoring three tries in the space of 15 minutes in the second half.

At King’s Park, Tigers collected their second win of the young season, beating Sabre Kowloon 24-16. Tigers took a 10-6 lead into the half after a try from fullback Casey Stone and a penalty and conversion from scrumhalf Matthew Price.

Kowloon mounted a strong comeback in the second half pulling back two tries, one a penalty try, but Tigers kept the pace with a try from Eric Kwok Pak Nga and then a penalty try in their favour late in the game. Price added both conversions in the second half to bring the total 24-16.

Tigers coach Craig Stewart was happy with the win but less so with the performance, saying, “We didn’t control the game well and we made poor decisions. We forced things, which allowed Kowloon to relieve the pressure we had built. Full credit to them, they stayed in the game throughout and worked hard.”

“We’re still making far too many errors,” said James Scaysbrook, Kowloon’s head coach. “We didn’t hold on to the ball well enough and had too many little skill errors. Our guys were making the effort and we were in it right through the game, but we didn’t handle the pressure situations in their 22 properly.”

Today’s results see Societe Generale Valley climb to the top of the table on 12 points as the league’s last remaining undefeated side. Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish tightened their grip on second place with 10 points from two wins and one loss, while Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers ascend to third overall on 8 points. Natixis HKFC are in fourth on 5 points followed by Leighton Asia HKCC, who have now lost two consecutive matches, on four points. Sabre Kowloon are in sixth overall as they chase their first win of the season next week.