HKCC hold off late Valley charge
Synovate HKCC used their 'get out of jail' card yesterday as they grimly hung on to a paper-thin 13-12 victory over Crown Valley at King's Park to keep alive their First Division League title hopes.
Valiant Valley not only had to battle their own demons - in the first half they were more interested in literally scalping their opponents than playing rugby - but also the referee's interpretation of the scrum as they fought back from trailing 13-0 to come within a whiff of nosing past HKCC.
'We were lucky to hold on. They were unlucky to lose,' HKCC player-coach Colin Bisley summed up succinctly. 'We sat back after scoring those early points and almost lost it at the end. We did get out of jail here.'
Valley were an aggrieved lot yesterday. While losing is part and parcel of the game, they would have felt robbed, especially in the scrum area where their forwards were penalised time and again - and sometimes even on their own put-in.
'I don't want to comment on that [the scrum]. I will get into trouble if I do that,' said an upset Valley coach Brian Higgins. Recently appointed as assistant coach to the Hong Kong national side, Higgins clearly didn't want to make waves.
HKCC began confidently when right wing Kenny Ng scored with his first touch of the ball in the opening minutes, latching on to a clever chip from Bisley.
New flyhalf Glen Dickson showed his pristine white boots were also made for kicking as he knocked over the conversion - but this was one of his few successes for the night as he missed five further attempts.
Bisley made it 10-0 when he opted to take a drop-kick from second-phase ball midway through the second half.
Dickson extended HKCC's lead to 13-0 soon after the break when he kicked a monster 55-metre penalty. With the wind behind them in the second half, Bisley decided to take the kick.
Valley's comeback was built around their forwards. Suddenly, Nick Hewson and the rest felt they had enough of monkeying around and decided to get stuck in. It paid rich dividends with plenty of good possession leading to two explosive tries - the first by winger Andrew Wong Kee and the second by blindside flanker Alex Baddeley.
'It was a great comeback. I'm really happy at the way we played, especially in the second half,' said Higgins. 'But unfortunately, it was not enough.'
Even with their scrum in a mess, Valley still had their chances of pulling off a sensational win. But the trusty boot of Justin Temara, who had converted one try, failed as he missed an easy penalty in front of the posts in the dying minutes of the game.
Nothing went Valley's way yesterday - luckily for HKCC.