Eight-try Club storm into contention
Battle for league title hangs in the balance as champions HKCC's lead cut to one point
CBRE Club ran in eight tries against the PLA, secured a bonus point in the 50-17 victory, and moved within striking distance of defending champions Synovate HKCC to leave the First Division title race hanging deliciously in the balance.
The winners will be decided next weekend. HKCC, who did not have a game yesterday, saw their lead in the standings cut to just one point after Football Club's backs shed their shackles against Chubb PLA - all eight tries were scored by the backs, who ran straight, ran hard and ran riot.
'It was pleasing to put 50 on the board and more so to secure the bonus point, which was our main target. Now we have to do the same next week too against Club Dragons and hope that HKCC don't score four tries,' said Club coach Rodney McIntosh.
As things stand, HKCC lead with 54 points while Football Club are on 53. If HKCC beat DeA Tigers next Saturday, and in the process score four tries to gain a bonus point, they will keep the league title for a second season. If HKCC win, but don't score four tries, then it will be all down to points for and against - that is presuming Club beat their second-stringers with a bonus point.
CBRE Club had to wait until the second half to secure their bonus point. Centre Nigel D'Acre, who had come in at the break and replaced Warrick Dent, scored the first of his two tries, which came about after a poor clearance saw the Club backs mount a swift and lethal counter-attack.
Until then, the visitors were within range of Club and were indeed unlucky not to go into the break with the scores level after two tries scored off rolling mauls were not given by match officials.
Club began well with flyhalf Rob Naylor scoring with his first touch of the ball, latching on to the ball from the kick-off. With the PLA players hesitantly waiting for one another to clean up the kick, the ball bounced right into Naylor's hands and he ran untouched to score.
A couple of minutes later, Naylor put his backs in motion after the Club forwards had punched the ball up. Quick recycling and quick hands saw winger Andrew Chambers put in space and he needed no second invitation to score.
The expected glut of tries did not follow as the PLA forwards found their feet. Superb driving mauls, the feature of their play, kept Club on the back foot for the rest of the first half. While Club dominated the scrums, the Chinese forwards were a threat every time they took a lineout as they drove the mauls fiercely.
All the hard work from the PLA forwards paid dividends when their lock forward peeled away from a maul to score by the corner flag to make the score 12-5.
A try from Dent restored Club's control on the proceedings, but at half-time the visitors would have been justified in feeling satisfied, especially after a second try had been overruled, apparently for the ball not being grounded.
Once D'Acre's try had seen Club reach their goal of scoring four tries, it also seemed to relax them and the backs became more expansive. With plenty of possession, Club began to move it around.
There were tries to inside centre Richard Rouse, winger Ricky Cheuk and scrumhalf Simon Aird with D'Acre capping it off by completing his brace. Naylor converted three tries before big flanker Charlie Brazier took over kicking duties in the second half and added two more.
But it was not all one way for the PLA forwards engineered a couple more tries which, in the final analysis, could cost Club hugely - if the title is to be decided on the aggregate points ratio.