HKRU Premiership 2016-17

Former Samoa international Bella Milo stars as Valley take third consecutive women’s title

James Elliot’s side defeat Gai Wu in grand championship final to stretch unbeaten run in KPMG Women’s Premiership to 42 matches

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 12:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 12:30am

Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies made it three grand championship wins on the trot in the KPMG Women’s Premiership on Saturday, defeating CPM Gai Wu Falcons 15-7 in a dour affair at King’s Park.

A match featuring the teams that have won the last seven grand championships between them was always going to be willing, but it was Valley who again showed their might.

The victory extended Valley’s undefeated streak to three full seasons and an unbelievable 42 matches, as well as handing them their sixth of the past eight grand championships.

“They’re an awesome bunch,” said coach James Elliot. “All of them impressed me, but the usual suspects were good. Olivia Coady is a machine, Toto [Cheng], Frenchie [Amelie Seure], our back three were immense.

“Obviously Bella [Milo] stands out. To me she is the most talented female rugby player I have seen.”

The heightened pressure of a final was on display early, with both sides doing their best to settle as the forward packs felt out their opposite numbers.

Valley looked livelier to begin with and found the line through dynamic back-rower Coady, with fullback Zoe Smith on target with the conversion to give the league champions a 7-0 start.

Valley pulled ahead 10-0 as half-time loomed, with Smith again on target with a penalty.

The second half was a battle of attrition, with Gai Wu putting it all on the line in an attempt to revive their hopes. The Falcons did the bulk of the attacking in the third quarter, with the period highlighted by some lively work from Chong Ka-yan on the wing.

Valley launched the odd counter, however neither team could trouble the scorers. The slog continued into the last 20 minutes of the match, with Valley wresting back the momentum and driving the Falcons back into their half.

Colleen Tsojvold and Adrienne Garvey battled hard as Valley threatened to cross again and eventually their sustained forward push returned results. Ex-Samoa player Milo was the beneficiary, with the powerful centre cracking the Falcons line and dotting down to put the result beyond doubt.

“The last five minutes was a bit scrappy, but we had to bring off Karen [So] at prop because of cramp, she’s a Hong Kong front rower so if you bring someone like that off your scrum goes downhill,” Elliot said.

“All our players got on the field and we had three 17-year-olds in the squad, so it was a good result.”

Gai Wu were rewarded for their relentless effort in the final minute with a penalty try, ensuring they did not go scoreless.

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

“I’m disappointed with the result but I feel really proud of the girls,” Falcons coach Lai Yiu-pang said. “To play a side with a former Black Fern [Coady] and a former Samoa player [Milo], the girls have never experienced that kind of quality in Hong Kong before.

“We did really well in the second half and our performance showed that we’ve improved a lot. I don’t think any one player stood out, it was a team effort and we deserved to get some points at the end.”