HKRU Premiership 2016-17

Valley out to extend phenomenal 41-match winning streak in Women’s Premiership final against Gai Wu

Having won the past seven grand championships between them, the fierce rivals resume hostilities at King’s Park on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 8:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 8:31pm

With five of the past seven grand championship titles and a winning streak of 41 matches, Societe Generale Valley take on CPM Gai Wu Falcons in the KMPG Women’s Premiership final on Saturday looking to add another chapter to their storied history.

The two teams have dominated the league in recent seasons and meet for the fourth consecutive time in a grand championship final.

Gai Wu have won the two titles to elude Valley in the past seven years but will have their work cut out against a Valley side bolstered by the return to fitness of ex-New Zealand international Olivia Coady and ex-Samoa captain Bella Milo.

“Many of the players on both teams know each other from national duties. They know each other’s style and strengths,” Valley coach James Elliot said.

“It may be that the side that tries something unexpected on Saturday could make the difference.”

Both teams boast numerous Hong Kong squad members, with as many as 20 potentially on the park at the same time on Saturday.

“Having so many internationals on the pitch supports the development of women’s rugby in Hong Kong,” Gai Wu coach Lai Yiu-pang said.

“It’s going to show off high performance women’s rugby. We need games like this. Winning 70-nil or 50-nil doesn’t help us develop as players or as a team, so I’m looking forward to a close game.”

Valley will have their strongest team available, with the back row of Coady, Amelie Seure and Toto Cheng that has been devastating this season sure to be called on again for some heavy lifting.

“Our regular force is ready – Bella, Olivia, Frenchie [Seure], Colleen Tjosvold and Adrienne Garvey in the backs are all available,” Elliot said.

Falcons will be without some key cogs, including Aggie Poon Pak-yan, who scored all of their points in last year’s grand final.

“We just prepare as best we can,” Lai said. “It was our target to return to this match at the beginning of the year and now we’re here. I’m quite optimistic and the team are really looking forward to it.”

Prop Cherry Wu, in her first season with Gai Wu, is also out with a dislocated shoulder, putting added pressure on the pack to step up in an up-front battle that is likely to determine the outcome of the match.

Gai Wu have an edge in the tight five, while Valley boasts the most dangerous back row in the league.

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“We’re looking for quality ball from the pack, especially in the set piece, to create opportunities,” Lai said.

Elliot is confident Valley can snuff out those opportunities: “I expect them to use their forwards quite a bit. But our structures are good, and our defence is strong, especially on the line. We’ve got real strength around the ruck.

“Our forwards love contact and our backs like to run, so I think it will be a high-intensity match.”