Kiwi Kimura proves his worth
Fly-half keeps HKCC/Aberdeen on top of standings despite a late charge by Tigers
The avalanche of tries supporters of the tsunami relief fund had been hoping for failed to materialise as Synovate HKCC/Aberdeen struggled to post a 22-15 victory over DeA Tigers in First Division action at King's Park last night.
HKCC/Aberdeen had the golden boot of fly-half Aaron Kimura to thank for their sixth successive win. Kimura kicked five penalties and also converted his side's solitary try - scored by fullback Paul Morehu - to keep Aberdeen on top of the Securicor First Division standings.
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, which will donate $250 for every try scored in this weekend's league programme to raise funds for victims of the tsunami disaster, will only have to dish out $750 after last night's encounter.
It seemed at one stage that more money would be raised by the spectators downing the beers - all proceeds here too were being donated to the relief fund - than by the players' efforts.
But DeA Tigers came to life in the last quarter of the match and scored two tries to take the total tally to three. Their sudden revival, having trailed 22-3, was sparked by a superb interception try by Ricky Cheuk, who ran the length of the field to score and infuse interest in a match HKCC/Aberdeen seemed to have under control.
'That intercept try hit us hard. From a position of strength, it put us on the back foot. It was a 12-point reversal. From looking as if we would score, suddenly we lost ground and allowed them to come back into the game,'' said HKCC/Aberdeen coach Richard Cooke.
Boosted by Cheuk's cheeky intercept, DeA Tigers found their self belief finally and began to make inroads into HKCC/Aberdeen territory. A couple of sin-bins - Chinese Agricultural University centre Yuan Fung and Asia's International Rugby Board development officer Jarrad Gallagher - also left Aberdeen one man short for a large part of the second half.
Cooke described the win as 'ugly and messy'. But he was not complaining. The victory was just what HKCC/Aberdeen wanted as they begin their second half of the season with an eye on winning the league championship for only the second time in the club's history. If they do it, they will have their three imports to thank.
Yesterday, Kimura showed what an asset he is with the boot. He also orchestrated play superbly. Kiwi compatriot and No8 Kahu Marfell also had a huge game as did scrum-half Lee Myung-guen, the Korean's smooth service giving Kimura all the time he needed to decide which option to take.
With these three players dominant and with the forwards winning good ball, HKCC/Aberdeen quickly took control of the match. They led 16-0 at half-time. Kimura was responsible for Morehu's try, too, when he made a powerful 25-metre break before off-loading the ball to Morehu.
HKCC/Aberdeen could have added two more tries on the board before the break, but first Marfell was held up after being driven over in a driving maul and then winger Steve Jenkins was tackled just short of the line.
Apart from a couple of surging runs by impressive No8 John Cocker, DeA Tigers were strangely subdued for most of the first half and seemed to have given up on their hopes of retaining their league title this season.
But Cheuk breathed life back into the side and with Nigel Clarke leading the forwards, the home team fought back bravely. A penalty from Rob Naylor and Cheuk's try saw the deficit cut to 22-8. Then, two minutes from full-time, Cocker peeled off a five-metre scrum to score under the posts and Naylor converted to make it 22-15.
DeA Tigers could have levelled the score in injury time, but centre Stirling Richmond tripped and fell after having broken through the defence to give HKCC/Aberdeen a much needed reprieve.
'We have the knack of giving sides a bonus point. But still a win is a win,'' added Cooke.