HKRU Premiership 2016-17

Robbie Keith firing for Tigers in Hong Kong Premiership after Discovery Bay Pirates pit stop

The 22-year-old fly half is in everything as his side overcomes a 19-point deficit to draw 29-29 with powerful Valley

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 2:27pm

After a brief pit stop at the Discovery Bay Pirates on arrival in Hong Kong, Robbie Keith looms as a dangerous weapon for Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers as they look to build momentum ahead of the Hong Kong Premiership’s grand championships.

Keith was in everything for a full 80 minutes at fly half as Tigers came back from 19 points down at half time to snatch an impressive 29-29 draw with league leaders Societe Generale Valley.

From Salisbury in the south of England, Keith came to Hong Kong for work in October and stepped out for the Pirates in national league two before Christmas while living in Discovery Bay with his uncle.

“My [then] boss [Steve Tait] was the chairman at the Pirates and he was my first contact in Hong Kong really,” Keith said.

“I just wanted to play rugby, so it was the easiest place to go. I enjoyed my game there.”

It was through Tigers lock Will Eversfield – who made his Hong Kong debut in November’s Cup of Nations – that 22-year-old Keith eventually made his way to Tigers.

“I played rugby with Will in the England students camp against the England under 20s and he mentioned in the change rooms that he was going to Hong Kong, so when I moved here I messaged him,” Keith said.

After playing for the Worcester Warriors in the Aviva A League at the beginning of this season, Keith has fitted in seamlessly at Tigers since his debut in December.

He scored a try, three conversions and a penalty against Valley in what would have been a complete performance if not for an unsuccessful drop goal attempt after 80 minutes that would have won the game.

“If I’m honest, not much [was going through my mind],” Keith said.

“It was the first time I’ve ever had to do it. It’s something that you should practice, but it rarely happens.”

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While Tigers are out of the race for the league championship, Saturday’s gutsy comeback gives them a genuine platform to build their finals push on.

“We are a good rugby side, we’ve just got to trust that we are a good rugby side,” Tigers coach Craig Stewart said.

“It’s proof what we are capable of, that second 40 [minutes]. We did the simple things well, held on to the ball, turned them around, it’s not complicated.”

The result was less than ideal for Valley, who are now equal on points with Bloomberg HK Scottish after Scottish defeated Natixis HKFC 27-21 to ensure a grandstand finish to the minor round.

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The final game of the round saw Kowloon brush past Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC with a 47-17 win.

In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, Valley proved too strong for Tigers in a 43-3 victory, CPM Gai Wu Falcons thumped HKFC 73-3 and SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix edged Kowloon 14-12.