League leaders Valley aim to make homecoming a happy one

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 January, 2009, 12:00am

After being closed for almost the entire season, the newly re-seeded Happy Valley pitch will re-open for play and Tradition Valley will hope to celebrate their homecoming by wrapping up the First Division championship today.

The Valley faithful will be out in numbers today, hopefully for the double celebration. And what better way to seal the title than a win over arch-rivals CBRE Hong Kong Football Club.

'That would cap it off nicely,' said Valley coach Brian Higgins. 'Club v Valley is always a grudge match, and to beat them and win the league title would be perfect.'

Such has been the dominance of Valley that they can look at adding the league title to the Knockout Cup which they won at the start of this season with two more games to play.

Unbeaten after seven matches, Valley have 33 points and are 18 points clear of Club, who have two games in hand.

'It is impossible to catch them. We need them to lose one of their other two games while win all our remaining games with a bonus point. We are not thinking about that right now, what matters is to beat them. Never mind the league title, all that matters is for us to win against them,' said Club captain Peter McKee.

Valley will field an unchanged line-up from that which won last week against Synovate HKCC. Sean Jennings and Nick Hewson will lead the forwards while the halves combination of Tim Alexander - who is still on a high after making it into the Hong Kong sevens squad - and Justin Temara will shepherd the backs.

'We didn't dominate as much as I would have liked against HKCC but we were coming off a long break. We have trained really well this week and the guys are fully motivated,' Higgins said.

Club have made a number of changes after struggling to a 27-27 draw against DeA Tigers last Saturday.

Nigel Hobler will return to the front row with tight head prop Steve Nolan being dropped. Angus Washington returns to the second row, resulting in Chris Howard being shunted into the back row and Guy Payne being dropped.

In the backs ex-Ireland under-21 Mike Glancy will come in at fullback, replacing the injured Adam Raby, while ex-Cambridge winger Dave Tibbott will switch places with outside centre Richard Rouse.

'We don't have anything to lose. Although the league is out of our hands, it would still be nice to beat them,' scrumhalf McKee added.