Schoolboy Siu plays Cupid as Valley romp
While other Hong Kong teenagers were probably swooning over their sweethearts with a bunch of roses in their nervous hands, Island School schoolboy Darren Siu was coolly playing a man's game on Valentine's Day.
The slightly built left-winger showed all the hallmarks of Cupid, being right on the mark, and dotting down the first try that gave heart and lifted the spirits of Asahi Valley who romped to a 35-18 win over Descartes Kowloon in the Zurich Major League yesterday.
Siu, 18, clinically finished off a blindside move, scampering over from about 15 metres to score the first of five Valley tries. His effort was just the tonic Valley needed as they shrugged off the stranglehold clamped on by a gallant Kowloon pack who played their hearts out but ultimately ran out of steam and conviction as the defending champions showed glimpses of the swagger that won them the title last season.
It was not only the try by Siu that gave Valley a fillip. His gung-ho attitude was evident right from the outset when he boldly took on Kowloon No 8 Rob Turuwhenua, who was bullocking upfield having fielded the kick-off.
Siu had thrown down the gauntlet for the rest of his teammates: match me if you can. And Valley did just that.
'Did you see how he took on big Rob. It was just unbelievable,' gushed amazed Valley player-coach Semi Iafeta afterwards. The accolades continued. 'He showed tremendous guts. For a boy still at school to be up against men of this size is admirable,' echoed Valley co-coach Kevin Ramsey.
Siu's try gave Valley the lead for the first time in the match, 10 minutes from halftime. Until then, Kowloon's forwards had controlled the proceedings. Tighthead prop Maafu Pale had scored first, driving over from a lineout close to the line.
It was cleverly done. Awarded a kickable penalty just inside the 22, Kowloon skipper Bruce Aitchison opted to kick for the lineout. Valley had just lost prop Malaga Leota to the sin-bin and they were one man down in the forwards. With Julian Dimond and James Burbidge-King dominating the lineouts, Kowloon were assured of ball and when they won it, the forwards drove for the line. And it was Pale who emerged with the ball in his hands as the bodies cleared.
Valley struck back through the boot of fullback Matt Dowling who knocked over a penalty. Back in the side after a short absence, Dowling proved once again what a threat he is, both with his goal-kicking and his uncanny ability to exploit the tiniest of cracks in the defence. And there were plenty in the Kowloon midfield as Valley's backs, led superbly by centre Evan Belford, gradually gained the ascendancy.
Aitchision, who had missed the conversion earlier, knocked over a penalty to take the score to 8-3 before Dowling added his second penalty to make it 8-6. Siu's try saw Valley take the lead momentarily before Aitchison levelled the score at 11-all with a penalty.
Kowloon scored their best try soon after the break when Turuwhenua finished off a move which he had begun. Having pushed Valley's pack off their own ball and won a scrum, Turuwhenua picked up and chose his favourite short-side to plough to the line. The move was kept alive by forwards Kris Marin, Peter Michael and Misilanu Moananu before Turuwhenua finished it off. Aitchison converted and Kowloon led again, 18-11.
But the irrepressible Siu was on hand once again to show the way forward for Valley. Picking up a pass from within his own 22, Siu sizzled down the left touchline for 60 metres before drawing the last cover and passing inside to Dowling who scored under the posts and then converted to draw level once again.
That try opened the floodgates. As Kowloon's forwards tired, Valley began to move it wide at every opportunity. With Iafeta spearheading the attack, Valley picked holes in the defence leading to a further three tries - to Belford, Dowling (his second) and Paul Gafney, playing out of position in midfield.