Valley reach 'new level' in nine-try rout of DeA
Asahi Valley's peerless 15 registered a perfect 10 in the opening match of the Grand Championship against DeA Tigers yesterday. A sublime performance dripping with power and pace blew away DeA who were left reeling in disarray. The final score - 54-14.
A shell-shocked DeA never recovered from an opening barrage of high-quality attacking rugby when Valley ran in five tries in the first 30 minutes to kill off any hopes their opponents had of making it a match.
Indeed it was a mis-match, in the first quarter and all the way. DeA, who had pushed Valley close in both their preliminary league games only to choke at the end, never knew what hit them as super-charged Valley began with a vengeance. DeA choked again - from the outset.
'Our plan was to hit them hard straight away. We wanted to be physical and they just fell apart. Everybody stepped up their game today,' said Valley player-coach Semi Iafeta.
Backrower Iafeta grabbed two of the nine tries scored. But even that effort was easily overshadowed by captain and scrumhalf Andrew Wong Kee who scored four tries and was in the thick of it all before leaving the field groggy at the end, a victim of a stiff arm tackle from Junior Sua. When Wong Kee puts his mind to it he is in a class of his own and is easily the best scrumhalf in Hong Kong. He and his teammates were superb yesterday.
The tight five, comprising Pete Spizzirri, Bryce Dailly, Willie Leota, Tom Hall and James Sidwell dominated the scrums and lineouts totally. The backrow of Iafeta, Bryan O'Hara and Aaron Johnston were the link that produced seamless rugby. Wong Kee and flyhalf Carl Murray combined harmoniously in perfect marriage to launch attack after attack. Midfielders Brett Forsyth and Jason Going ran rings around the defence, especially with their dummy runs which left DeA clueless time and again. The back three of Alex Telea, Matt Dowling and Jamie Goldberg were a blur of speed as they incessantly threatened the DeA goalline.
'Clinically this was the best we have played this season. But we have still got a long way to go and there are things to work on. We were not really concerned about the score today, all we wanted was to take it a step up and to a new level,' said Iafeta.
Valley certainly did that. They have champions written all over them - as if the rest of the opposition need reminding after Valley finished the first two rounds unbeaten.
DeA soon realised this when they lost their first scrum of the match which was wheeled. The ploy to bring Fred Moe into the second row to bulk up the pack was not working. Things got worse when the outcome of that lost ball was Wong Kee working the blindside and going over for his first try.
A poor re-start by Rob Naylor saw play brought back to the halfway mark. From the ensuing Valley scrum, Iafeta made a break and passed to Wong Kee in support who found Telea. The winger was bundled into touch. But the DeA lineout was under pressure and a poor clearance kick by Alex Zenovic handed the advantage back to Valley. The Valley forwards won the ball and drove to the line with Iafeta touching down.
Ten minutes gone and Valley were leading 12-0. A Murray grubber resulted in DeA fullback Johnny Zhang conceding a five-metre scrum when he ran into touch. Valley won the ball and Going cut through to score under the posts. Another bad kick by Zenovic soon after, this time kicking for touch but from outside his 22, saw Valley win a lineout from which the ball was worked wide to Telea who went over for his 20th try of the season. Valley were up 22-0 in just 16 minutes. The match was all but over and they made certain with further tries by Iafeta, Wong Kee and sub Simon Hague. DeA could only answer with a penalty try and a consolation score by Peter Clough.
'We got blown away in the first 20 minutes,' said disconsolate DeA coach Jim Walker. 'They played excellently and didn't give us a sniff. I can't see anybody stopping them.'
In the day's other match, Synovate Aberdeen defeated Descartes Kowloon 28-13. But as Walker said, Valley look invincible. 'We played champagne rugby today,' said Valley second rower Hall afterwards. DeA would agree wholeheartedly.