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HKRU Premiership

Former Bath, Exeter star James Scaysbrook chasing more success with Kowloon in Hong Kong Premiership

His side take on Tigers in the grand championship semi-finals, while Valley and Football Club lock horns

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 7:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 10:59pm

He had success in Europe with Bath and was a member of the Exeter Chiefs side that won their way into the English Premiership for the first time in 2010 and now Kowloon coach James Scaysbrook is chasing glory of a different kind.

The 36-year-old took Kowloon to the grand championship final in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership last season and is hoping to go one better this time around.

It will be no easy task, with his side facing league champions the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers in this weekend’s semi-finals on the back of a brutal quarter-final against Bloomberg HK Scottish that went to double extra time.

Last year Kowloon fell at the final hurdle to Societe Generale Valley and Scaysbrook is by no means getting ahead of himself.

“My involvement is tremendously different so it is difficult to compare the two, we will worry about that when the time comes,” he said about adding silverware as a coach to his playing achievements.

“There are lots of elements in our game we need to improve if we are to look at [going all the way], but there were certainly a lot of good sections of play in there [against Scottish].

“Now it’s about knitting together as many of those positive actions and positive sets of play and that is the process we will be following.”

The Tigers are at the other end of the scale to their opponents after two weekends off and coach Sam Hocking is keen to ensure there is no complacency.

“You can look at it in two ways,” Hocking said. “My boys haven’t played for two weeks now so while we might be a little bit fresher there is probably a little bit of rustiness there as well.

“They have got threats in the backline especially, [centres] Lewis Warner and Ben Madgwick played particularly well [against Scottish] and with Ed Styles back at full back it changes the picture for them a fair bit.”

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Hocking has a raft of talent at his disposal, with a back row featuring Joe Ellyat, Alex Woodburn and Josh Hrstich setting the tone throughout the season.

He also has high hopes for the combination of scrum half Josh Walden and fly half Robbie Keith: “It is about how they control the game. More than anything, it is about not letting Kowloon dictate the game and playing the game the way we want to play is the key.”

The other semi-final sees Valley take on Natixis HKFC, with Football Club coach Cameron McIntosh aware of the difficulties of stopping a Valley side aiming for their fifth consecutive grand championship title.

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“For us, it’s just making sure we can slow down their offloads and, most importantly, play the game at our pace,” he said, adding that key players Mitch Andrews, Jamie Hood and Nate de Thierry will return to the side.

In the KPMG Women’s Premiership semi-finals, Valley take on Tigers and Gai Wu face a Tai Po side that came out of the competition’s development tier to progress to the second week of the play-offs.