Pengelly to work overtime
Steve Pengelly will attempt Mission Impossible II with Kowloon tomorrow in the Grand Championship Finals - hoping to lead the club's First as well as Second XVs to glory at King's Park.
Giant lock forward Pengelly has opted to turn out for Kowloon Pussies in the Second Division final against Club Scorpions, and then start on the bench for the First Division Cup clash between Securicor Kowloon and Asahi Valley.
It is a gamble that could backfire on Kowloon, who might be better off having the inspirational Pengelly fresh for the big finale to the season. But the former Hong Kong captain, nicknamed Pinky, is willing to take the risk, according to John Bruce, Kowloon's director of rugby.
'Pinky has made his decision, which is to play for the Pussies for whom he has turned out all this season. The club had had a long and hard look at this issue and although the First Division title is the big prize, we have decided to stick with his wish,' said Bruce yesterday.
Apart from Pengelly's decision, Kowloon coach Bill Mason has decided to stick with the players who have fronted up for the first team all season. The return of lock Ben Tibbott, who was away last week, also played a role in Mason's decision to be loyal to his regular troopers and start with them.
Pengelly, 38, was coerced back into First Division action last Saturday and played a huge role in Kowloon's 13-11 victory over league champions Synovate HKCC. Although it was his first top-flight game in five seasons, Pengelly slotted back in seamlessly and was at the heart of a superb defensive performance.
Having accomplished Mission Impossible - HKCC began as favourites - and lasted a full game, Pengelly will need another super-human effort if he is to play more than 90 minutes of rugby. Last Saturday, he cleverly conserved his strength, and receiving great support from his fellow-forwards, was able to lead Kowloon to victory.
But the question is whether this move will backfire if Pengelly gets injured in the first game, or if he sub-consciously holds back so as to reserve his stamina for the next game. It could end up with Kowloon not winning any silverware.
'Our main target is to win the First Division trophy. But any success is welcome in the club and that is why Pinky has decided to be loyal to the Pussies. We will take him off if the Pussies are losing badly or if we are winning easily,' said Bruce, who also turns out for the Second Division team.
Substituting Pengelly early is wishful thinking, for this season the Pussies (Second Division League champions) have been run close by Scorpions, winning one and losing one.
Apart from Pengelly, Kowloon's other major worry centres around scrum-half Johnny Gbenda Charles, who is currently at the Commonwealth Games following the Samoan sevens squad. Arrangements are being made for Gbenda Charles to fly back in time for tomorrow's kick-off at 6.30pm.
Captain and prop Adam Hay and hooker Leung Ming-hong, who were both missing for the semi-finals last week, will also be back in action.