Hong Kong Premiership
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HKRU Premiership 2015-16

Business as usual: Tigers tumble as HKRU Premiership undergoes mid-season shuffle

Valley double-up on Kowloon to open up a 22-point lead in top-flight domestic game

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2016, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2016, 6:58pm

The first day of HKRU Premiership action in 2016 produced a major mid-table shuffle as Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish overcame Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 20-11 in a hard-fought match at The Rock while Societe Generale Valley hammered Sabre Kowloon 42-21.

Scottish and Tigers had looked to rediscover early-season form following a run of pre-Christmas reversals, but despite the visitors spending much of the first period camped in the Scottish 22 the home team pulled ahead and held on for an all-important win.

Two penalties each – by Tigers fly-half Liam Gallagher and Scottish scrum-half Charles Cheung Ho-ning – kept the scores level as the first half neared its end before a well-worked try from right-wing Ben Cullen moved the hosts in front.

We started well and created plenty of opportunities but Scottish showed lots of character and fought us hard all the way
Craig Stewart, USRC Tigers coach

Cheung’s conversion gave HK Scottish a 13-6 lead going into the break.

Scottish withstood a sustained period of pressure from the restart before quick hands in the Tigers backline fed the ball out to the wing where prop Dan Barlow was waiting to storm home and narrow the gap.

The outcome was sealed for Scottish by quick-thinking youngster Mark Coebergh – riding high after a strong showing with the Hong Kong U19s in Singapore and a Larry Abel Trophy-winning best-and-fairest display in the HKRU New Year’s Day Youth Tournament.

Coebergh, always quick to see an opportunity, plucked the ball from a ruck and sprinted 30 metres for a wonderful individual try that left the visiting Tigers with an all-too tall mountain to climb with just 10 minutes remaining.

HK Scottish general manager Bryan Rennie said afterwards he was especially pleased with his team’s resilience.

“After two tough losses and down to 13 men for 10 minutes [today] we showed a lot of character,” he said.“We kept it ticking over when Tigers had more of the possession. Overall it perhaps wasn’t a great game, getting pretty scrappy, but a lot of the guys stepped up … with Mark Coebergh in great form on his return from duty with the U19s, and it was good to come away with the result.”

Craig Stewart, head coach of USRC Tigers, took the loss in an honest and up-front manner.

“We started well and created plenty of opportunities but Scottish showed lots of character and fought us hard all the way, so that when we made a couple of errors they were there to punish us.

“It’s true we had the bulk of territory and possession, but the loss was our own fault and I make no excuses,” he said.

Saturday’s result enabled HK Scottish to leapfrog their opponents into third place – but only by a whisker with both teams on 20 points and Scottish ahead by a point-difference of -44 to Tigers’ -39.

Leighton Asia HKCC overcame Natixis HKFC 32-12 Saturday at Hong Kong Football Club to move up to second place in the battle of the “best of the rest”, while runaway leaders Societe Generale Valley marched ever onward with a 42-21 win over bottom-place Sabre Kowloon.In the ninth round of the HKRU Women’s Premiership, CPM Gai Wu Falcons defeated Transact 24 Tai Po Dragon Ladies 34-0 to narrow the gap on table-topping Valley, while USRC Tigers Ladies defeated HKFC Ice 22-3.

Gai Wu’s win, their seventh of eight encounters so far this season, puts them just one point behind the league leaders, though the Valley Black Ladies still have a game in hand.

Tigers (22 points) retained their hold on third place with HKFC (17) fourth and SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix (10) fifth. Transact 24 Tai Po Dragon Ladies and Kowloon Ladies hold up the table with zero points.