Unstoppable: Seven-try Valley crush HKCC to wrap up league title and edge closer to a ‘perfect’ season
Societe Generale Valley wrapped up the HKRU Premiership in emphatic style Saturday at Sandy Bay with a seven-try 45-10 romp over their nearest title rivals Leighton Asia HKCC.
While few doubted Valley had sealed the 2015-16 league crown with their first win after the Christmas break, Saturday’s bonus-point victory with just three regular season games left means it is now a numerical impossibility for the boys in red to be overtaken.
Now their attention will turn to completing a first unbeaten run through an entire Premiership season – they are currently 12 from 12 – and then mounting a defence of their Grand Championship crown.
After narrowly avoiding their first loss of the season against Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers last weekend, Valley bounced back with their most complete performance so far as they frustrated HKCC at every turn.
“Winning the league was one of our goals this season and it was a great way to do it with a performance like that against Cricket Club,” said Valley coach Jack Isaac.
“We knew we had that type of performance in us, but it has been a long time coming. We ticked a lot of boxes out there. There were some nice tries and it was a very positive performance. Everything just seemed to click for us today.”
The Sandy Bay scoreboard was also clicking regularly for the visitors after centre Liam Bax and wing Ryan Mecheam combined for their first try with just 52 seconds gone.
A silky run by Bax opened a giant seam in the HKCC midfield off the kick-off, and after picking up 30 metres he offloaded to Mecheam who crossed over in the corner. Fly-half Nicholas Holton’s conversion was good as Valley took a 7-0 lead.
That run was the first of several for the slippery centre – and his backline team-mates – as Valley picked up territory in huge chunks.
HKCC regained their composure were unable to break through in the first 20 minutes with Alex McQueen’s lone penalty their only reward.Valley’s counter-attacks were menacing as wingers Mecheam and Max Woodward repeatedly broke away on long runs which HKCC struggled to contain.
Valley’s second try came in the 28th minute after a clever break from scrum-half Kirk Munro, whose darting runs along the sides of the set piece were a persistent problem for the Cricketers. Hooker Dayne Jans collected the last pass in the phase and crashed over in the corner to push Valley ahead 12-3 at the break.
Just two minutes into the second half Valley fullback Ed Rolston powered over from five metres off an attacking line-out.
Rolston’s effort sparked another scoring spurt for the visitors with three tries in the next 10 minutes, starting with replacement prop Tony Wong Ho-yeung intercepting an errant pass in his own half and showing surprising pace to sprint 70 metres through the heart of the HKCC defence before swan diving over to score.
Salom Yiu Kam-shing then scored on his first touch of the ball after coming on as a reserve, followed by Mecheam’s second try just 90 seconds later.
Holton slotted all three conversions to give Valley a 38-3 lead and that margin stood until the final 10 minutes before prop James Cooper pushed over from in close for HKCC’s only try of the game. McQueen’s conversion brought the score to 38-10.Valley would ultimately deprive HKCC of the consolation, however, as Woodward took the ball at pace before cleverly turning inside to wrong-foot the defence and score Valley’s seventh beneath the posts in the 89th minute.
“We’re hugely disappointed,” HKCC coach Deacon Manu said after the match. “We did our homework for this game but we didn’t execute.
“We’ve been saying all week that we needed to win that first 30 minutes. It was a focus for us in training, so to go out today and let in those early tries in both halves was very frustrating.
“Valley prevented us from playing our game. We didn’t get clean ball. We didn’t get any opportunities to put our game plan in place and I think our hunger to make tackles was a question mark that the players are going to have to answer,” Manu added.
In Saturday’s other top-flight men’s action, Natixis HKFC stole a march on Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish with a 25-15 away win at Shek Kip Mei, while USRC Tigers beat Sabre Kowloon 25-20.
There was no change in the HKRU Women’s Premiership standings with runaway leaders Valley Black Ladies bashing fourth-placed HKFC Ice 46-0, second-place CPM Gai Wu Falcons beating bottom-of-the-table Kowloon Ladies 35-3, and SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix defeating Transact 24 Tai Po Dragon Ladies 15-3 to stay one place above them in fifth spot.