Cricketers maul Tigers to clinch title
After all the hype, HKCC score a surprisingly easy victory
Synovate HKCC won the First Division League title for the second successive season after they thrashed DeA Tigers 82-0 at a rain-swept King's Park last night.
HKCC needed to score a minimum of four tries to secure the bonus point needed to pip Hong Kong Football Club for the crown. They scored 14 tries with Colin Bisley leading the way with four of his own - albeit two being 'gifted' to him by his teammates.
There was a touch of irony in the proceedings last night. A few days after Hong Kong Cricket Club coach Richard Cooke had raised questions over Football Club's 100-0 victory over second-stringers Dragons - he implied that the losers had followed team orders and rolled over - last night's performance by DeA Tigers once again will have raised a few eyebrows.
'I don't want to talk about it,' said DeA Tigers player-coach Nigel Clarke afterwards. The number eight sat out the game with an injury, as did a raft of his teammates, including flankers Joe Wheeler and Justin Gregory, hooker Jon Abel, and a couple of the Fijian imports.
The official line was that all were carrying injuries and could not be risked before this Saturday's crucial first-round game in the Grand Championship against Kowloon. With no chance of winning the league, DeA Tigers did well to front up on a cold and wet night, but obviously their hearts were not in it. It was a night to be tucked in bed with a book in hand, preferably a thriller. For there was few thrills on the pitch - even the scrums being reduced to no-push after DeA lost their hooker early in the second half.
There was no need to wait until the final page for the climatic outcome for by the end of the first quarter, HKCC had sewn it up, scoring the four tries needed to seal the title.
Skipper and loosehead prop Mike Meredith set the ball rolling when he barged over in the very first minute of play after the forwards had driven a maul from a lineout 30 metres out.
Minutes later, inside centre Simon Hempel, who had an outstanding game, burst through the defence to score HKCC's second try.
Fly-half Massey Tuhukaraina, who also excelled, was involved in the next two tries, scoring the first and then sending a long cut-out pass for Bisley to score.
'Our plan was to come out early and hit hard. But once we scored those four tries, we didn't let up and we gave them the respect they deserved,' said Meredith. 'We kept going and concentrated on our own game.'
Bisley, the top-try-scorer in the league, collected four tries although two of them were gifted to him by Tuhukaraina and fullback Paul Morehu, both of whom having crossed the line, passed the ball to Bisley to touch down. Tuhukaraina scored a brace, as did number eight Pale Touati and lock Simon Leung. The others to get on the scoresheet were James Wood and Jarrad Brownlee.
'We played well. Unfortunately DeA were depleted,' said Cooke afterwards. 'But it is great to defend our league title for one more year.'