PAUL Welham capped a cameo appearance in the unfamiliar position of number eight with a superb try to give JMC Kowloon a 19-13 victory over Hong Kong Football Club in the First Division rugby union Knockout competition yesterday. Welham, who is more comfortable in the role of scrum-half, struck the decisive blow midway through the second half to give his side the lead - 16-13 - for the second time in the game. And this time Kowloon hung on.
Kowloon, who like most clubs are struggling to find players, cleverly used their bench which was boosted by the presence of a number of old faces including Welham, and visiting duo Chris North and Mark Parlane.
When Welham came on the Kowloon pack had lost imposing second-rower Steve Pengelly who had left the field through injury at half-time. Kowloon were trailing 13-6 at this point.
'We knew we had to be more aggressive in the second half. Our first-half performance was thoroughly disjointed as we gave away too many turnovers,' said skipper Graham Black.
Welham provided the aggression his captain wanted. Two crucial mistakes by Club gave Kowloon the territorial advantage. First a Kowloon re-start after a failed Club penalty attempt saw the ball roll loose near the Club goal-line. Then Club knocked on in that lineout to concede a scrum. From that scrum, Welham scored, picking up and charging over.
Kowloon who have suffered more than their share of bad fortune in the past, found lady luck smiling on this occasion when a subsequent Club try was disallowed.
Club captain Matt Reede seemed to produce a carbon copy of a 50-metre try he scored in the first half to give Club the lead.
But his side's joy was quickly cut short when the touch judge intervened to point out an earlier foul by a Club forward.
'When Club scored I thought that is typical of our luck . . . throwing away victory again,' said Black.
Kowloon fullback Dave Assenheim, whose kicking was top drawer, put over his fourth penalty soon afterwards to seal the win.
Club's other points came from the boot of fly-half David Wigley who converted Reede's try and put over two penalties.
But that was not enough to keep Club in contention for a place in the final.