Phil Bailey excited by Australian Barbarian Will Munro’s impact as Football Club progress in HK Premiership
HKFC see off HKCC 17-3 in a dour struggle to reach the semi-finals, while Tigers shock Scottish 38-28
Fresh off a game for the Australian Barbarians against Super Rugby’s ACT Brumbies in January, new Natixis Hong Kong Football Club forward Will Munro has coach Phil Bailey excited.
Second-row forward Munro was never far from the action as HKFC wore down Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC to win their quarter-final 17-3 on Saturday, while Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers shocked Bloomberg HK Scottish 38-28 in the other match to set up a semi-final against Kowloon.
“Will came a little bit late because he wanted to play for the Australian Barbarians but we got him for the business end,” Bailey said. “He adds a lot of impact, he’s good around the field and he’s a big carrier for us.”
HKFC will have to go up another notch to match Societe Generale Valley in the semi-finals next week, but Bailey feels everything is falling into place.
“We were missing a couple of key ingredients and I think we’ve slowly integrated those into the side,” he said.
“Some players who had to mature are starting to mature, some people who were learning to be leaders are starting to find their feet.”
Munro only arrived in Hong Kong in early February and Saturday’s was only his third game for HKFC, with the 24-year-old hitting the ground running after his match for the Barbarians that acted as a pre-season game for the Brumbies.
“I guess I’ve got a bit of confidence at the moment. I’m enjoying my footy and I think my footy is showing that I’m having fun,” he said.
It was the second time playing for the Barbarians for Munro, who has played for Randwick in Sydney and also the NSW Country Eagles in Australia’s National Rugby Championship.
The Barbarians are an invitational side that is made up of the best non-contracted players in Australia.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “They’re always a fun organisation to play for. The motto is that we like to have as much fun with the ball as possible, throw it around and have a real crack.”
Despite a poor season, HKCC took it to HKFC and the game was neck and neck for the first hour, with HKFC in front 7-3 at the break thanks to a Ben Willis try.
A penalty from fly half Nate de Thierry early in the second half saw Football Club open up a seven-point lead and Munro put the game beyond doubt with a try 15 minutes from time.
“We are coming good at the right end of the year,” Bailey said. “We worked all week to play to a structure and we actually did it for the first time all year.
“We were strong defensively, we worked hard for each other and people stood up. We’ve got Valley, they are the form team and they are going to be hard to beat but finals footy is finals footy.”
In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, HKFC beat SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix 32-5.