Randall terrorises HKCC attack
'We had to shut their backs out ... the forwards played superbly,' says skipper Cameron
He is the smallest man among CBRE Club's pack of giant forwards. But Andy Randall was walking tall after playing his heart out and spearheading Club's defence as they completely shut out Synovate HKCC in a bruising encounter at Aberdeen Stadium yesterday.
Football Club kept their hopes of winning the First Division League title alive after beating defending champions HKCC 11-0. It was a hard-fought victory, built on the labours of a powerful performance of the Club forwards, especially openside flanker Randall.
A figure reminiscent of former England flanker Neil Back - and he plays like him, too - Randall's terrier-like defence cramped HKCC's expansive backs, especially the dangerous Colin Bisley, who was a marked man. Randall even tackled big No 8 Pale Touati to a standstill. His efforts rubbed off on the rest of his teammates as Club played intelligent rugby to carve out a victory and stay in with a chance of winning the league.
Club kept play tight and with the forwards as much as possible. With Nigel D'Acre starting at flyhalf, it was obvious the Sports Road outfit's game plan was to keep first phase ball as close to the forwards instead of shipping it out wide. Mistakes in midfield were at a minimum and as such it nullified Bisley and company who are always dangerous from broken play.
'We had to shut their backs out and we did it. While the forwards played superbly, I think this was a great effort from everyone, from one to 22,' said Club skipper Tom Cameron, paying tribute to his troops.
Club led 8-0 at half-time courtesy of a penalty and a try from winger Ricky Cheuk. Left-footed No 8 Charlie Brazier, who had to take on the goal-kicking duties in the absence of regular flyhalf Ben Harris who was on the bench, knocked over an early penalty to give draw first blood to Club.
HKCC had their chances, too - but a long-distance penalty from Bisley and one from the 10-metre mark from flyhalf Massey Tukaraina both went astray. Their best opportunity, however, came midway through the first half when, against the run of play, left winger Terence Ng found himself in open space with about 40 metres to cover.
Unfortunately for the Cricketers, Ng did not have the gas to outstrip Club fullback Andrew Chambers, despite trying to outfox him. In desperation, Ng flung a pass to his own fullback Paul Morehu with the goalline in sight, but it was ruled forward. Club scored the only try of the match just before the break with HKCC down to 14 men after hooker Wayne Whitney was sin-binned. It resulted from a lineout inside their opponents' 22 and ended with the Club forwards driving it up twice before the ball was shipped out quickly on the blindside to Cheuk, who dived over near the corner flag.
With a couple more penalty kicks going astray, and with time running out, HKCC launched assault after assault. Touati was at the helm of the forwards and Bisley in the backs. But stout defence kept them out.
D'Acre sealed Club's win when he coolly slotted over a drop-goal from 25 metres out to increase the lead to 11-0 and put the result out of HKCC's reach.
'It was awesome defence from Club. But it is not the end of the world. We will now have to beat DeA Tigers in our last game and in the process score a bonus point to ensure that we win the league,' said HKCC captain Mike Meredith.
Yesterday's win will see Club close the gap to six points with a game in hand. 'Our remaining two games are against the PLA and Club Dragons. We have to win them both along with bonus points. But the main thing is that we are still in with a chance,' said Cameron.