HKCC beat Club 30-13 in Grand Championship semi-finals
Dominant second-half performance helps cricketers to deserved victory and a final showdown against Valley
Unbridled joy swept through the ranks of Leighton Asia HKCC after they pulled the rug from under defending champions Newedge Club in the semi-finals of the Grand Championship at Sports Road last night.
The fans were singing in the stands after a dominant second-half performance from an inspired set of forwards earned Hong Kong Cricket Club a deserving 30-13 win, but coach Andy Hall refused to get carried away and warned that it wasn't the end of the road for the club who have struggled to win silverware in recent seasons.
"I'm absolutely delighted but this cannot be our final. This cannot be the end of the season for us. We have one more game to win," said Hall. Yet, victory over Hong Kong Football Club, who had beaten them twice in the league this season, needed huge celebrations, and the small group of fans obliged.
HKCC scored 17 unanswered points in a period of the game that has often been the soft underbelly of the team in the past. But it was a different story yesterday as they played smart rugby, ruling the breakdown to emerge deserving winners by four tries to one and book a place in next Saturday's final against ONEworks' Valley
"We have been a second-half team all season which is funny considering that over the last couple of years we have always fallen away in this period of play," said skipper Simon Leung Ho-yam. "But we have learned the hard way and I think it is testament to the fitness and commitment of the guys that they were giving their 100 per cent even at the end."
It was all even at the break with the score on 13-13. Hong Kong Football Club scored a try through fullback Rob McDermott and flyhalf Mike Glancy added the extra points as well as knocking over a brace of penalties.
Their opponents replied in symmetrical fashion - through the boot of fly-half Nick Wheatley and a try from fullback Alex McQueen.
The first signs that Club would unravel came just before the break when fiery flanker Rory Hussey was sin-binned for a late tackle. His absence led to HKCC gaining the ascendancy, not so much in terms of points but in self-belief and it showed when the points started to flow.
Cleverly committing as fewer men to the breakdown as possible, HKCC capitalised as holes began to appear in their opponent's defence leading to further tries. A forwards drive off a lineout resulted in Renaud Chavanis emerging from under the pile of bodies with ball in hand.
Then scrumhalf Tom Marshall finished off a series of drives by the forwards with a nice sniping run before winger Tom McQueen put the finishing touches late in the match with a breakaway 45 metre run.
At King's Park, Valley dented Abacus Kowloon's bid for a double with a 23-16 victory to book their berth in the final.