True grit Tigers dash Club's double hopes
Forget the version of True Grit showing in cinemas. The real version was on show yesterday at Sports Road as Keith Robertson and DeA Tigers crushed Newedge Club's hopes of winning the double with a superb 13-8 victory in the G4S Grand Championship semi-final.
It was heroic stuff. Leading by five points going into the last quarter, DeA Tigers played their hearts out and stopped wave after wave of attacks from Hong Kong Football Club to book a berth in the Grand Championship final for the first time since 2005.
DeA Tigers will meet Tradition Valley in next Saturday's final after Valley defeated Altus Kowloon 24-15 in the other semi-final.
'It was a great game, absolutely fabulous,' said diehard DeA Tigers supporter Trevor Gregory, shedding his cloak as chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union briefly.
'I thought DeA played really well, especially Robertson and Rowan Varty, who were both outstanding.'
Flyhalf Robertson scored his side's solitary try which was converted by scrumhalf Matt Price, who also knocked over two penalties. Football Club's points came from a try from winger Adam Raby, while flyhalf Mike Glancy converted a penalty. The score was 3-3 at half-time.
'We are gutted,' said Club coach Rob Naylor, crushed that the hopes of adding the season-ending knockout title to the league crown had been dashed.
'We were rusty. We hadn't played a competitive game for a long time and last week's game [against Valley Black] which was cancelled didn't help us. But they played really well.'
Club's much-vaunted pack was held by their counterparts, who took the game to them. The DeA pack even turned the Club scrum a couple of times.
'Even when they were piling on the pressure in the last few minutes, the DeA forwards lifted their game,' Gregory gushed.
DeA will now have to ward off the challenge from Valley on Saturday if they are to win their first Grand Championship crown. DeA have played in two finals before, losing to Kowloon and Club.
Tries from Ross Armour, Dave Whiteford and Ally McClay plus nine points from the boot of Ben Rimene helped Valley gain the ascendancy over Kowloon in the other semi-final.
'They made life a bit difficult for us in the last 20 minutes when we took our foot off the throttle,' Valley coach Brian Higgins said. 'We have one more box to tick off now, although we didn't expect to meet DeA Tigers in the final.'
But true grit threw up a surprise and spoiled Club's bid to celebrate its 125th anniversary with the double.