Asia Pacific Dragons survive scare as they charge into GFI HKFC Tens quarter-finals
Top seeds BGC Asia Pacific Dragons have lucky escape against 12th seeds A-Trade Overseas Old Boys in their quest to win a fourth title in five years, while Nate Ebner makes his case for USA sevens selection
Top seeds BGC Asia Pacific Dragons (APDs) survived a scare on Wednesday against 12th seeds A-Trade Overseas Old Boys before topping pool A and continuing their quest to win a fourth GFI HKFC 10s title in five years.
The Dragons beat Devils Own Shanghai Rugby 48-0, but then found themselves a try down against Overseas Old Boys, having been reduced to nine men early in the match following a yellow card for former All Blacks scrum half Jimmy Cowan.
“We had a champagne win in the first game against the Shanghai team, but we had a bit of a scare against the Overseas Old Boys,” said Dragons captain Isaac Ross, who earned eight caps for the All Blacks before moving to play in Japan’s Top League in 2011.
“They came out firing and were really gunning for us. We need those sort of games to get us ready for day two. We executed well in game three and we’re really proud of the way the guys bounced back.”
In their second game, an Apete Daveta try and Emosi Vucago conversion gave the defending champions a 7-5 lead before an Old Boys side featuring former New Zealand Sevens player Zar Lawrence almost pulled off the win with an attempted drop goal, which sailed wide.
The Dragons restored their confidence in their final pool match by beating Irish Vikings 31-0 to the relief of 31-year-old captain Ross, one of three former All Blacks in the team along with Cowan and towering prop Carl Hayman.
The 2012, 2014 and 2015 champions will play seventh seeds Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles in the Cup quarter-finals, while second seeds Tradition YCAC topped Pool B and will face Old Boys, who upset eighth seeds Irish Vikings 5-0 in their pool A opener.
Nate Ebner, the 2015 Super Bowl champion trying to secure a place in the USA Sevens side for this year’s Olympics, scored a try in Samurai’s 33-5 win over Projecx as he impressed on his first day of competitive rugby since 2011.
Mike Friday, head coach of USA Sevens, was among those in the stands keeping an eye on the 27-year-old, who recently took a leave of absence from the New England Patriots to pursue his Olympic dream.
“I always like to come to the 10s, just because it’s a great event first and foremost. It’s a phenomenally competitive tournament and it’s a bit special for us this year because we’ve got an eye on Nate Ebner, one of our up-and-coming Eagles,” Friday said.
“He’s trying to make the transition from Super Bowl winner to compete in the Olympics this year and this is stage one of his rugby comeback, so to speak. He’s done well, some good positional work in his defence and he’s gone over for a try, so I’ve been pretty impressed with what Nate’s done today.”
The fourth-seeded Samurai topped pool D after two wins and a 12-12 draw against Kir Club Pyrenees in the day’s final match, while third seeds Penguins topped pool C with three wins.
Debutants Projecx Waterboys from Scotland and King’s College at the University of Queensland both upset higher-seeded opponents in their pools to reach the Cup quarters.
Projecx, seeded ninth, upset fifth seeds Pyrenees 12-7 in their opening pool D match, while King’s College beat sixth seeds UBB Gavekal 19-0 and CRFA Gladiators 31-12 in pool C on their way to securing a place in the last eight.
10:35am: Irish Vikings v XBlades Rowzy Pegasi
11:00am: KIR Club Pyrenees v CRFA Gladiators
11:25am: UBB Gavekal v Natixis HKFC
11:50am: GFI East Africans v Devils Own Shanghai Rugby
12:40pm: BGC Asia Pacific Dragons v Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles
1:05pm: Samurai International RFC v King’s College at UQ
1:30pm: Penguins v Projecx Waterboys
1:55pm: Tradition YCAC v A-Trade Overseas Old Boys