Valley pip HKCC to win Grand Championship final
Substitute winger scores near the end to topple HKCC in evenly contested final
A try seven minutes from the end by substitute winger Ryan Meacheam gave ONEworks' Valley a narrow 16-15 victory over Leighton Asia HKCC in the Grand Championship final at King's Park last night.
But the victors conceded they were lucky to emerge champions and graciously tipped their hats to Hong Kong Cricket Club who had been hoping to break a nine-year-long Grand Championships winless drought. Valley won this title two seasons ago.
"It was a 50-50 game and could have gone either way," chorused Valley captain and hooker Andrew Kelly and coach Dean Herewini. Kelly added: "I'm relieved. It was a tough encounter as the scoreline indicates".
Meacheam was on hand to finish off good concerted pressure from the Valley forwards who recycled the ball through a number of phases before the winger saw a tiny piece of daylight in the corner. Valley then held on grimly as their opponents threw everything into it.
"It is extremely disappointing to lose, especially by one point," said losing captain Simon Leung Ho-yam. "But I can't fault the effort of the guys. But this is heartbreaking."
Both teams traded penalties through their flyhalves, Ed Haynes (HKCC) and Ben Rimene to finish the first half with the scores deadlocked.
Soon after the break Valley edged in front through a try from Paddy Kirkland but HKCC quickly nullified that as they drew level once again with Haynes crossing over for a try. A drop-goal from Niall Rowark gave Valley the lead once again before HKCC grabbed the lead with a try by winger Tom McQueen which was goaled by Haynes to give the cricketers a 15-11 lead.
It was left to Meacheam to score the decisive points late in the game. HKCC had a couple of chances late in the game but mistakes and poor decisions robbed them. Leung said: "We had our opportunities even late in the match to pull it off, but a couple of wrong calls, one in a lineout, cost us. It is a pity."
Opposing skipper Kelly said: "It was a no-holds barred game and it was clear both sides were keen to win the match. It was end-to-end stuff and all credit to HKCC for they played really well."
Herewini said: "It is especially pleasing as the club is going through a rebuilding phase. It is a great achievement for the guys."