Dingley all smiles after Valley go on try spree
Asahi Valley went on a try-scoring rampage as they demolished Shanghai Sports Institute 57-0 yesterday to overhaul China Agricultural University at the top of the Asian Dragons Inter City Series standings.
Valley scored nine tries, including a penalty try, and achieved their twin target of not only winning in style but also acquiring the crucial bonus point which gives them seven points after three games. CAU, on six points, will have the opportunity to go top again if they beat Taiwan's Tao Yuan County in today's fixture at Happy Valley. The Taiwanese club will play all their games against the Chinese sides in Hong Kong due to problems in acquiring visas to enter the mainland.
Hong Kong's other team in the competition, DeA, began their campaign on a low note when they were beaten 34-8 by PLA Sports Institute in Guangzhou yesterday. Crushed captain Rob Naylor blamed the defeat on his side's inability to win their own set-piece ball and the large number of turnovers conceded.
Hong Kong champions Valley took their time to find their feet, leading 17-0 at the break before cutting loose in the final quarter of the second half Scrumhalf Andrew Wong-Kee turned in a scintillating performance as he grabbed a brace with centre Eric Hanare matching him in the try-scoring stakes. 'Our training was disrupted last week and we spent the first half getting our act together. But we stepped up a gear in the second half and you could see they were rattled,' said a pleased Paul Dingley, captain for the day.
Dingley, who declared himself fit and recovered from a back injury, scored the first try of the match which started from a scrum awarded to Valley five metres from the Shanghai goal-line. Dingley was unable to do his normal pick-up and drive over the line, but hooker Terry Brink kept the move alive. The ball was recycled quickly and Dingley was on hand to sell a dummy and open Valley's account.
To their credit, Shanghai bravely kept their shape and composure to restrict Valley to only two more tries in the first half, scored by Wong-Kee and Hanare. The only other noteworthy feature in this half was the sin-binning of Dingley for over-zealous play. Despite enjoying all the possession and territory, Valley struggled to find the finishing touches after the turnaround. A penalty try awarded when a Shanghai forward deliberately infringed on a Valley five-metre scrum set the ball rolling once again.
Hanare and Wong-Kee both scored their second tries either side of a lovely piece of individual play by winger Ben Harris who made a strong run down the left wing before chipping over the cover and rounding the defence to pick up and score. Replacements Kevin O'Connell and Bryan O'Hara also got their names on the score-sheet as Valley finished the match expansively.
'We didn't know what to expect from Shanghai and kept it tight in the first half, but once we started to move the ball around, their heads dropped,' Dingley said. Valley should remember Shanghai - last in last year's competition - are the weakest of the three China teams.
As DeA found out first-hand when PLA ran in six tries past a bemused DeA defence. 'We got a bit of a hiding,' Naylor said. 'It was very disappointing.'
The victory leaves PLA hanging on to third place in the six-team competition.