Jones spurs Club to romp over Forces
By NAZVI CAREEM
HONG Kong Football Club opened the defence of their First Division title with a convincing 43-5 victory over British Forces at Sports Road last night.
Club ran in seven tries as their forwards provided plenty of power, inspired by the return of prop Ashley Jones.
Jones had missed the first two tournaments of the new season, the Valley 15s and the LOGO Cup, in which Club failed to live up to expectations.
Although their backs struggled to make the most of the forward domination, skipper and number eight John Clarke was satisfied with the team's performance.
''It was a very strong display up front,'' said Clarke. ''With Ashley back in the side, it has given us another attacking option.
''We all need to reach full fitness, but the signs are that the pack of last season are returning to form.
''It was not a full side and I'd say we were playing at 75 per cent.'' Forces, comprising players from Flying Kukris, Tigers and Black Watch, suffered a cruel blow after only three minutes when fly-half Rory McIntyre was taken off on a stretcher after breaking his left leg.
They were never in real contention against the formidable Club forwards, but fought to the last minute, scoring one of the night's best tries through Pete Woolley.
It was also the last match in Hong Kong for Forces and Kukris lock Ian Slack, who is being posted back to the Britain after six years in the territory.
Club fielded several players making first team league debuts, including giant lock Paul Timmins, fly-half Luke Conrick, centre Andy Curry, winger Joe Bourk and full-back Andy Johnson.
They are still awaiting the return of full-back and last season's Player of the Year, Justin Weston, and fly-half Philippe Lacamp, both of whom are away from Hong Kong.
It took Club 20 minutes to break down the Forces defence, flanker Mark Davis going over for the opening try of the match. Davis scored three times, including the second try, while winger Mark Thomas grabbed two, one in each half.
Timmins and fellow-second-rower Grant Jamieson also scored one try each, while centre Keith Gauntlet kicked four conversions.
Forces try came during injury time when a forward moved, sparked by John Pymm, resulted in a spontaneous series of passes which culminated with Woolley running in for the score.
Club's next match on Saturday is also at home against Police, for the Bruce Vogel Trophy.
Forces face another tough task at Sek Kong against LOGO Cup champions Valley, while Kowloon, who beat Police in their opening match on Tuesday, take on Club Dragons.