Football Club shuffle the pack
Hong Kong Football Club have made a number of changes in the forwards for their second outing in the All China Inter City Series against PLA Sports Institute at Sports Road tonight.
Bigger but not better. That was the story of the Football Club scrum as they struggled against the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing last week.
'While the Club pack was bigger, they were out-scrummaged on nearly every scrum by CAU who in one scrum pushed the Club pack back almost 10 metres,' related Derek Palaschuk, a former Club player who is now resident in Beijing.
In a bid to correct that aspect of their game, Club have rung in the changes right through the pack - a move which skipper Adam Horler hopes will help stabilise the foundation and set up a platform for a convincing victory against the PLA.
'The scrum was a big area of weakness last week. We struggled through the first half, although we tightened up in the second. We have done a lot of work on this part of our game and we are ready,' said Horler.
The new-look front row will see Thomas Cameron coming in at loosehead prop. Normally a hooker, Cameron started on the bench last week. But the front rower, who has played for Griqualand in South Africa, is deemed technically adept to play at loosehead and with fellow-prop Ed Floyd, Club feel they have a solid foundation. Mike Kerr will remain as hooker.
In the second row, Roger Patterson keeps his place along with Christian McGregor, while Ian Cooke will play at blindside with Horler shifting to openside and Hamish Bowden playing No 8. The back row changes were forced as flanker Will Wild is unavailable today.
'The PLA are a well drilled team and I believe they are the strongest of the three Chinese sides. We will have to be at 100 per cent to win,' said Horler.
Football Club's back division will be boosted with the return of fullback Matt Reede from Lebanon where he has been on duty watching the round ball at the Asian Cup. However, missing in the line-up is Warren Warner who is playing for the Hong Kong A sevens team at the Bangkok Sevens this weekend. Reede will start on the bench, leaving Chris Gordon to continue his fine work at fullback. Gordon was named man of the match last week, mainly for his defensive ability. Club beat CAU 20-5. They will be hoping to do better on their home pitch against the PLA.
Hong Kong champions Asahi Valley come out for the first time in the competition when they take on Shanghai at the Shanghai Football Club.
Valley will field an under-strength back division with Rodney McIntosh, Simon Hague, Robin Bredbury and Tom Breen unavailable. They will also miss flanker Brent Edwards who is away at the Bangkok Sevens. But the presence of newcomers, prop Damien Rangitutia and lock Clint Heap, and the return of back rower Jon Dingley should give Valley the edge in the forwards.
'We really don't know what we are up against. This is our first game and we are excited about the concept. It is good to be able to play opponents other than Football Club,' said skipper Paul Dingley.
Shanghai, who will field two expats in their team, lost 19-5 to the PLA last week.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong A sevens squad that left last night for Bangkok included: Andrew Dailly, Chan Fuk-ping, Peter Choy Wai-ping, Rob Naylor, Yong Chi-fung, Alex Zenovic, Ng Kwok-leung, Lee Cheuk-yin and Cheuk Ming-yin.