Altus Kowloon out to silence critics
Altus Kowloon are determined to make an 'emphatic statement on the paddock' tonight against Newedge Club in a highly charged showdown for the Grand Championship title.
'We want to lay to rest all the mumblings going on,' said Kowloon director of rugby Kevin McBarron, referring to the controversy which led to Kowloon winning the league after Club fielded an ineligible player.
'This is the final game of the season and, not that they need more motivation, a few players have been verbally abused by a small section of Sports Road supporters, so we are looking to make an emphatic statement on the paddock,' McBarron said.
Sentiment and emotions ran high after Hong Kong Football Club were docked all of their points after defeating Kowloon in the second round of the league because they fielded tighthead prop Nigel Hobler, who had not been registered. Kowloon benefited from the points reversal and won their first league title in 30 years.
Kowloon will get the chance to silence their critics, but have a number of players carrying injuries. Their team sheet yesterday had seven players missing from last week's starting line-up, including key forwards Mark Goosen and David Tait. They also had a new halfback pairing in Cado Lee and player-coach Joe Shaw.
'But this can all change as we have to make our final team declaration only 45 minutes before the game starts,' McBarron said. 'A number of these players are still carrying niggles and we just wanted cover for them. Everyone will be in contention.'
Facing a juggernaut Club pack, Kowloon's game plan will hinge around moving the ball away quickly from contact areas if they are to complete the double.
'We have beaten Club this season [in the first round of the league] and we have nothing to fear from them,' McBarron said.
While Kowloon kept everyone guessing, Club named a full-strength line-up with only one change to the side, which defeated Tradition Valley 29-3 in the semi-final last week. Club have opted to start with Mike Glancy in the fly-half role with Jamie Hood on the bench.
'This is not about any grudge match. It's the grand final and that is enough motivation,' said Club coach Rob Naylor. 'What has happened in the past is done and there is no point crying over spilled milk. Saturday is all about getting the job done and taking home the silverware. But don't get me wrong, there wont be any love lost out there.'