Tigers aiming to disrupt Cricket Club's march to title
Play resumes in the First Division after the Christmas break, with leaders Synovate Hong Kong Cricket Club eight points clear of second-placed Crown Valley after an unbeaten season.
We're in the home straight as far as league fixtures are concerned, but HKCC's match against DeA Tigers tonight at King's Park could still influence the title race.
Defending league champions HKCC have been the dominant outfit so far, rattling up big wins against lesser opponents, while also grinding out victories over old adversaries CBRE Club 19-9 and Crown Valley 31-15.
HKCC coach Richard Cooke has memories of this stage last season, however, and is not getting carried away with his side's good run.
'At this time last year, we were on top of the First Division and then went on to get beaten by Club and Valley in the New Year, and lost to Kowloon in the semi-finals of the Grand Championship. We can't make the same mistake this time around,' he said. 'We let it slide a bit, so the guys are determined to avoid the same fate this year. We're not going to take anybody lightly, particularly DeA, who are an improving team, and step up our performances on the pitch.
'That's what the other clubs did in the second half of the season last year and we didn't match them. This time the guys are fired up and don't want that to happen again.'
After a so-so start, DeA have steadily improved and after victories over Laxton PLA 51-14 and, most notably, Club 26-5, they have shown they're a team with huge potential and quite capable of throwing a spanner in the works of HKCC's slickly oiled machine.
The sides met in the first match of the season when HKCC won 22-5.
In hindsight, however, it was a good performance from DeA, who were missing players through injury and, compared to the drubbings HKCC have dealt out since, it was a very competitive affair.
'As more players became available our performances improved in 2006 and we're playing well as a team now. HKCC will go in as favourites but there's no doubt we're going into this game expecting to win,' DeA player-coach Nigel Clarke said.
'We're looking at achieving an unbeaten second half of the season. Our goal is to continue our improvement and get to the Grand Final at the end of it all.'