Club salvage face-saving draw

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 January, 2009, 12:00am

Keith Robertson scored two tries, but it was the two tries that CBRE Hong Kong Football Club scored late in the game which rankled him and his DeA Tigers teammates, who were left disconsolate after their opponents clawed back a 12-point deficit to draw 27-27.

'We were robbed,' said an unhappy Nigel Clarke.

The Tigers No.8 couldn't have put it better as Football Club were fortunate to escape with a draw after trailing 27-15 with just under three minutes left at King's Park yesterday.

But full marks to Club for bouncing back. The never-say-die spirit runs deep in the Sports Road outfit and superior fitness probably gave them the edge at the end as they salvaged a face-saving draw, which might just keep them in the hunt for the First Division league title.

'It will be tough but I think the race is still open,' said Football Club captain Peter McKee. 'We are lucky to escape with a draw.'

Robertson, playing his first full game this season after coming back from a hamstring injury, produced a superlative performance at flyhalf for the Tigers.

They looked rejuvenated by his presence as well as the return of Rowan Varty, the other full-time Hong Kong professional. Also catching the eye was skipper Nick Hurrell, who ruled at the lineout, while outside centre Dave Kell was a tower of strength in midfield.

Football Club led 6-0 after James Kibble knocked over two penalties. But that lead was negated by Robertson. The Hong Kong sevens star slipped seamlessly into his new role as 15-a-side pivot, and after some good driving play by his forwards, he slipped past two tacklers, picked himself up and scrambled over for a try from close range.

Two more penalties from Adam Raby saw Club regain the lead and go into the break 12-7 ahead. But a try from Hurrell allowed the Tigers to put their nose in front again, 14-12.

It was shortlived as a Raby penalty restored the lead for Football Club at 15-14.

Robertson, who had also taken on the kicking duties and converted both the Tigers' tries, then completed his brace midway through the second half as he sliced through the opposition, completing some good lead up play by prop George Latu, who had broken down the right wing.

The diminutive Robertson converted his own try and then knocked over another penalty to take his personal tally to 19 and push the Tigers' lead to 24-15. Kell added another long-range penalty and it seemed to be all over.

But the home team didn't bargain for the last-minute spurt from Football Club, who incensed by the looming defeat, came to life. Number eight Oliver Jones scored his side's first try of the match, two minutes from the end as he picked up from a scrum and drove over.

Then seconds later, lock Dan Watson blithely skipped his way through a flailing defence to score by the left corner flag. Colin Begg, who had converted the first try, couldn't repeat the second conversion pushing it wide, much to the relief of the Tigers.

'We survived in the end. I just don't know how we let them come back,' said a disappointed Robertson.

He was happy to come through a full 80 minutes and prove he is fit for action as Hong Kong look towards the World Cup Sevens. But he was crushed that his two-try heroics wasn't enough to lift the Tigers from the bottom of the First Division heap.

In other action, leaders Tradition Valley extended their dominance with a 22-10 victory over Synovate HKCC, while InProjects Kowloon defeated Manulife Causeway Bay 24-15.