Nine-try HKFC crush Tigers to set up do-or-die final fling with HKCC
Natixis Hong Kong Football Club exploded for nine tries in a 57-7 romp over Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers on Saturday, putting them just one win away from securing a pass straight through to the Grand Championship semi-finals.
HKFC’s emphatic bonus-point victory at Sports Road leaves them just four points out of second place in the HKRU Premiership standings behind Leighton Asia HKCC who failed to earn a bonus point in their 20-19 win over Sabre Kowloon on Saturday.
Next weekend’s 15th and final round of regular league action will see the two clubs face off at Sports Road where they will battle it out for runners-up spot in the ladder to earn a bye in the play-off quarter-finals – and an extra week of rest.
The other team to receive a bye through to the semis are 2015-16 league champions Societe Generale Valley, who on Saturday hammered Bloomberg HK Scottish 41-10.
Despite the hosts’ convincing victory at Sports Road, it was USRC Tigers who dominated play in the first quarter, keeping HKFC penned in their own half and quickly snuffing out any potential scoring chances.“We were slow out of the blocks with a lot of mistakes and unforced errors but after 20 minutes we got into our game. We found our rhythm and away we went,” said HKFC coach Phil Bailey.
“We’ve played really hard all year and we’ve ground out a lot of wins, but finally it clicked and we were able to put it all together out there.”
HKFC’s first real scoring chance came off a passage of play in which they demonstrated solid patient rugby, methodically working the ball up the pitch.
Centre Ben Axten-Burrett spotted half a gap and his weaving run helped collapse the Tigers defence on their own try-line. The HKFC pack, which accounted for the first five tries in the game and six of nine, capitalised on the confusion to send prop Ronan Donnelly over from in close.
Scrum-half Jamie Hood’s conversion was on target as HKFC started to build some momentum, pressurising Tigers from the restart and keeping their foot on the gas throughout.
Try number two came in the 22nd minute after lock Jamie McGregor collected a loose ball deep in the Tigers half and showed a strong burst of speed to extend HKFC’s lead to 12-0 with an unconverted score.Moments later lock Pierce Mackinlay-West collected a line-out ball and acrobatically spun to surprise the defence before he was stopped just short of the line. But Donnelly scooped it up and ran in his second try.
A yellow card against Tigers flanker Jack Capon put the visiting pack under even more pressure which led to HKFC’s fourth try – McGregor’s second – as the hosts secured their bonus point early.
USRC Tigers’ only try came shortly after half-time when they brought the ball down cleanly from a deep line-out and started a driving maul that put towering lock Henjo van Niekerk over for the score, with Liam Gallagher adding the extras for a 24-7 score-line.
But from that point on it was all HKFC, with number eight Josh Afu, winger Steven McCarron, replacement wing Cameron Smith, Hood and replacement prop Matt Onesemo all getting over the line.
With the win HKFC recorded their best run of results this season – four consecutive wins – and they will look to carry that momentum into next week’s all-important clash with HKCC and the Grand Championship.
“Four in a row is good, but 57-7 is the best bit,” coach Bailey said. “We know that we need to work on defending that driving maul that gave them those seven points and 57-nil would have been better. But I can’t complain about that attacking effort.”In the HKRU Women’s Premiership game of the week on Saturday HKFC Ice held on for a 20-10 win over SCAA Causeway Bay Phoenix.
Ice extended a 7-5 lead at the break with a penalty and two tries in the final forty minutes to give the fourth-placed side some breathing room in the standings.
In other Women’s Premiership matches Saturday, runaway league leaders Valley Black Ladies demolished Transact 24 Tai Po Dragon Ladies 78-0 to go 12 points clear in the standings and remove any doubt about who will be crowned 2015-16 champions after next weekend’s final round.
In the late game at King’s Park USRC Tigers blanked Kowloon Ladies 29-0.