HKCC prove to be Club's bogey side again
Everyone else in the First Division may be at a loss, but Synovate HKCC seem to have CBRE Club figured out as they beat them for the second successive time at Aberdeen Stadium yesterday - and this time the result will stand.
Football Club tumbled to a 13-8 defeat by HKCC who are the only team to beat the league champions-in-waiting this season. It was HKCC's way of telling the Sports Road outfit 'you might be the new champions, but we are still better than you'.
HKCC, the defending league champions, have a 2-1 record over Club this season, including wins on the last two occasions. But the previous result - 15-10 - was overturned by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union after it was found that HKCC had flouted the rules by mistakenly fielding an ineligible player.
'It is really satisfying to defeat them again,' said HKCC captain and No8 Pale Tauti with a grin as wide as a barn door. Tauti has every reason to smile for he was the player who was wrongly registered as a resident. Football Club captain Nigel D'Acre admitted afterwards that defeat was hard to stomach.
'We are gutted to lose to them again. This was one game we desperately wanted to win,' said D'Acre.
Club will have to wait until after the Lunar New Year holidays to see if they get another tilt at HKCC - in the Grand Championship. That is if HKCC make it, as they are in a qualification dogfight - Club and Valley are assured of two of the four berths - with Kowloon and DeA Tigers.
However, last night was all about settling a score for HKCC. Their forwards, led superbly by Tauti, outplayed the Club pack both in the set-pieces as well as at the breakdown to ensure they would snap a two-game losing streak.
'We are back. It was a hard-fought win, but the guys stood up tonight,' Tauti said.
HKCC trailed to an early penalty from Mike McKee, but went into half-time 10-3 in front after fullback Hilly Dannaoui scored the solitary try, completing a conventional backline play. Glen Dickson converted the try and also knocked over a penalty, from 52 metres out, as HKCC dominated both territory and possession.
'We just didn't play today, especially in the first half which was probably our worst performance all season,' D'Acre conceded.
A superb drop-goal from 35 metres by Dickson put HKCC 13-3 in front soon after the break. But a yellow card for HKCC's Polonga Pedro gave Club a sniff of hope.
And they made the most of the opportunity when opting for a lineout, newcomer and No8 Nathan Johnson peeled off the back to rumble over for a consolation try.