Grand Championship

HKRU Premiership 2015-16

Battling Kowloon withstand late HKFC onslaught for shock win and a spot in Grand Championship semis

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 February, 2016, 6:13am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 February, 2016, 6:17am

Bottom-ranked Sabre Kowloon finally found their mojo on Saturday as they withstood a late Natixis HKFC onslaught to win 18-12 and book their place in next weekend’s Grand Championship semi-finals.

On a day of surprises in the men’s HKRU Premiership play-offs Bloomberg HK Scottish, who finished second-last in the league, upset fourth-placed Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 23-20 to also advance to the final four.

Next Saturday HK Scottish and Kowloon will play the top two teams in the league – Societe Generale Valley and Leighton Asia HKCC – who as champions and runners-up both received a bye through to the semis.

While the men’s matches delivered two closely contested upsets, the form book held steady in the women’s play-off quarter-finals with second-ranked Tigers hammering winless Transact 24 Tai Po Dragons 62-0, third-placed CPM Gai Wu Falcons crushing Kowloon Ladies 76-0, and fourth-placed HKFC Ice defeating SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix 29-12.

That last win keeps the season going for the Sports Road women who are playing top-flight rugby for the first time this year. However, next weekend they face champions Valley Black Ladies who have not lost a game for two years.In men’s action Saturday, Kowloon showed signs of the steady improvements they have made recently in tough ties against Valley and HKCC.

The Loon had another solid start against HKFC, scoring an early try through prop Angus Dixon. The hosts soon leveled the scores but Kowloon replied immediately with centre Richard Lankshear crashing over for a 12-5 lead at half-time.

The visitors took full advantage of the early second-half sin-binning of HKFC centre Tom McColl, adding two penalties through fly-half Jack Neville to extend their lead to 18-5.

Club nabbed a consolation try late in the match with Jamie Hood’s conversion bringing the home team within a try of victory, but Kowloon held firm against the relentless pressure to set up one half of some surprising semi-final brackets.

At King’s Park, HK Scottish jumped out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead despite conceding four penalties in the opening seven minutes, but at the end of regulation the score was tied 20-20 and extra-time lasted nine minutes before fullback Ben Tyler kicked a drop-goal from near halfway to send Scottish into the semi-finals.

“It was an emotional win,” said Scottish coach Craig Hammond. “We knew it was going to be tough and Tigers brought a lot of energy and a lot of attitude to draw level at the end.

“A lot of credit needs to go to a few of our guys who had niggles but really stepped up. There were probably three or four guys on that pitch at the end that shouldn’t have been out there through injury but they manned up – through extra time as well.”