Valley confident of claiming double
Tradition Valley will attempt to complete the double today when they take on CBRE Hong Kong Football Club in the Grand Championship final at King's Park, contentedly basking in the knowledge that nothing will rattle them and there is no hurdle they cannot surmount.
Like the finest steel forged under high heat, Valley coach Brian Higgins believes the best comes out in his side when they are under immense pressure - like last week when they trailed Synovate HKCC 10-6 into the last quarter before emerging 23-10.
'This side will always back themselves to win,' Higgins said. 'We were down, trailing to HKCC last week, but these guys had a lot of composure. There is great belief in the side, and they know they can complete the double.'
This never-say-die attitude of the First Division League champions will have to be deflated by Football Club who believe the key to winning will be starting well.
'We have lost twice to Valley this season, and on both occasions we started slowly,' said Club coach Terry Hart. 'We were forced to play catch-up rugby and failed. This time, the guys know they have to play well from the start. They are unbeaten this season, and this is the last big game. There shouldn't be any greater motivation than this to win. And we know we can win.'
Valley, in fact, were unbeaten last season, too. But Higgins was not too concerned over such matters. What matters for him is the next game and it doesn't come any bigger than today's clash.
'We have had a long unbeaten run but all that will count for nothing if we lose. This is a one-off game for both teams,' Higgins said. 'And being unbeaten won't be a burden on our backs. In fact it will be a motivating factor for our guys.'
Both Valley and Football Club will be at full-strength, although the latter will be missing their highly volatile openside flanker Rory Hussey who was handed a five-week ban by the Union's disciplinary committee for his off-the-ball fisticuffs with DeA Tiger's Tsang Hing-hung in the semi-final last week.
'We will miss Rory and have been forced to reshuffle the backrow,' said Hart, who will move Mark Wright from centre to the openside with Richard Rouse, returning from injury, moving into the midfield.
The only other change for Football Club will be in the front row where prop Nigel Hobler will start alongside hooker Richard Kirke and loosehead Ian Ridgway.
Valley's pack led by its inspirational skipper Sean Jennings will also see a change with flanker Renaud Chavanis coming back from injury. The other change is in the backs with Paul Scherer starting at fullback resulting in Kirk Munro moving to the left winger, replacing Tom Nelson who will be on the bench.
'We have prepared well and are looking forward to the double and finishing on a high,' Higgins said.