Last-gasp try earns Tigers a draw
In the true spirit of the season, DeA Tigers and Synovate HKCC shared the spoils, drawing 17-17 at King's Park, as the First Division entered a three-week Christmas break yesterday.
A last-gasp try by Tigers fullback Peter Clough, who finished off a superb run by winger Kwok Kwong-wan, enabled the hosts to tie a game which only came alive late in the second half.
Tigers skipper Rocky Ata Matatumua had the chance to win the game by converting Clough's try, but his angled kick was off target. It was a fitting result, for both sides didn't deserve to lose - or win.
'We didn't deserve to win,' said Matatumua after he had missed his pressure kick. 'But at the same time, it is nice to go into the break not losing. We are happy with the draw.'
HKCC were unhappy. Leading 17-12 with seconds to go, fly-half Josh Hamilton inexplicably kept the ball in play from the last move of the match. His kick to release pressure was right down the throat of winger Kwok who counter-attacked down the left wing from 60 metres out. Kwok's electric speed outpaced a couple of defenders before he drew the cover and passed to Clough supporting well.
Clough couldn't quite finish it off under the posts, but he did well to touch down a few metres away from the corner flag. But Matatumua, who had kept the Tigers in the game with four penalty conversions, failed to add the extra points - much to the relief of HKCC co-captain Pale Tauti.
'We didn't deserve to lose it,' said Tauti. 'But we made too many basic errors consistently and no one wanted to put their name on the game. We turned it into a dogfight.'
It has been a long hard season so far for HKCC. Title contenders last season, they prop up the First Division standings with the Tigers. Tauti blamed the fall from grace on injuries as well as a poor attitude within the team.
'We have had a lot of injuries. Key players like Simon Hempel and Colin Bisley are out and the loss of these leaders have made it tough,' Tauti said.
'We have struggled to put out the same 15 each week but the attitude has also been poor. Hopefully we will come back with more urgency in the new year.'
The urgency was missing from both sides in a rather drab first half which was turned into a kicking contest between goal-kickers Matatumua and Hamilton. Tigers took a 6-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes as they dictated the early play.
HKCC got on the scoreboard after their opponents were marched back 10 metres for backchat leaving the ensuing penalty within the kicking range of veteran Alistair Broatch.
Hamilton then took over the kicking duties as both sides continued to err at the breakdown giving each other opportunities for pots at goal. By the time a dreary first half came to an end, the scores stood at 9-9.
It was quite apt that the full-time score also ended in a tie. Matatumua had pushed Tigers to a slender 12-9 lead by landing his fourth penalty, but that lead was overhauled with the first try of the match from HKCC fullback Matt Corbett who made up for an earlier dropped pass with the goal line staring at him.
Hamilton missed the conversion. He then gave the Tigers a lifeline which was gladly accepted.