HKCC out to end nine-year drought in season finale
Simon Leung’s team will be hoping to continue momentum against equally determined Valley
Former Hong Kong captain Simon Leung Ho-yam will be hoping to lead Leighton Asia HKCC out of a nine-year long drought this evening when they take on ONEworks' Valley in the final of the Grand Championship at King's Park.
"I have been playing for eight seasons and have never won a Grand Championship. I hope this is the year," said Leung yesterday. The last time Hong Kong Cricket Club won the season-ending showpiece was just before Leung joined the ranks, during the 2001-02 season.
Both are unlikely protagonists. All the money was on League champions Abacus Kowloon and runners-up Newedge Club battling it out for the silverware.
But both were knocked out in the semi-finals last week, Valley claiming the scalp of Kowloon while HKCC overturned Hong Kong Football Club.
"We enjoyed last week which was a great performance from us but unless we back it up, it will not mean a thing," Leung warned. "We are hungry for this and winning the title will be huge for us".
Valley are rallying behind the cry of "family and tradition" according to coach Dean Herewini. The build-up has been focused largely on reflection of the club's storied past with many former players giving pep-talks which Herewini hopes will be enough to motivate his squad to win a title they last won tw seasons ago.
"We have worked a lot off the field. We have dwelled on what Valley has offered players over the years, the family concept, a living in Hong Kong and so on," said Herewini who also used to play for Valley many seasons ago.
"I hope the guys will be inspired by the history of this club and use that as motivation."
The head-to-head this season stands at one win each with HKCC winning the first round encounter.
But No. 8 Leung warned that counted for nothing, pointing out that Valley are a totally different side now.
"In the first half of the season they struggled for numbers. What matters now is that post-Christmas, Valley are the form team.
But having said that, if we stick to our game-plan and the forwards are able to deliver good set piece possession, we have the talent in the backs to finish it off," Leung said.
HKCC will field the same lineup which disposed Football Club 30-13 last Saturday. Siosius T-Pole, James Tsang and Jack Nielsen will form the front row with Renaud Chavanis and Bill Brant behind them. Leung, Matt Lamming and Damian Bailey complete the pack.
Hooker Andrew Kelly, a 100-game veteran formerly with Edinburgh, leads Valley and will have Alex Ng and Paddy Kirkland by his side.
"We are at full-strength barring our tighthead prop Kevin Curtis who injured himself last week," said Herewini. "Getting to the final has ticked the boxes and it will be nice to finish it off now."