SOUTH China found the right time and the right place to produce the perfect performance and thrash favourites Eastern 3-0 in the Viceroy Cup final at Hongkong Stadium yesterday. After a season in the shadows of their arch rivals, the Caroliners destroyed Eastern's hopes of a four-trophy grand slam by winning Hongkong football's most coveted prize for the sixth time in its 24-year history. South China captain Chan Ping-on, who missed the tie because of a broken left arm suffered during last Tuesday's semi-final victory over Instant-Dict, joined his teammates on a lap of honour and then summed up the feeling in the Caroliners camp. ''We knew we could beat them this time and it's a great feeling to do it on an occasion like this,'' said the veteran sweeper. ''Our confidence has been growing over the last few matches and all the boys played so well. ''In our quarter-final we went behind against Sing Tao but came back to win 2-1; then in the semi-final we did not play too well but fought hard and won through on penalties. ''We showed that same fighting spirit in the final and also produced a very good team performance.'' South China were well in control at half-time thanks to a sixth-minute goal from right-winger Loh Wai-chi and a flying header from striker Billy Whitehurst in the 32nd minute. And they made the game safe 10 minutes into the second half when Loh popped up again to grab his second of the match and South China's third. But the star of the show was 32-year-old Bosnian striker Anto Grabo, who ran the Eastern defence ragged and laid on all three goals in a man-of-the-match performance. Grabo, who joined the Caroliners during their mid-season shake-up, said: ''That is just what we needed. It was our big chance to make up for all the disappointments this season and everyone raised their game. ''I was glad to lay on three goals but a little bit disappointed I did not score. I had a few chances and a goal would have made it a really great day for me.'' The signing of the experienced Whitehurst, from Irish champions Glentoran, has proven a great help for Grabo. Instead of playing a back-to-goal role as a lone striker, Grabo can now collect the ball in deeper positions and use the space to attack defenders. And Eastern, who had conceded only five goals in a 19-game unbeaten run from the start of the season before yesterday's match, could not contain the athletic Grabo down their left flank. From the moment Eastern's 17-goal leading scorer, Dale Tempest, had a first-minute header ruled out for offside, it was not their day. They lacked their usual flowing style and were indecisive in defence, unsettled by the physical presence of Whitehurst in the air and the pace of Grabo. Eastern team manager Peter Leung said: ''If we had scored the first goal in the first five minutes it would have been a different story. Now we must concentrate on winning the league.'' Eastern had beaten South China 5-0 in the league and 4-0 in the Shield final before the teams drew the return league match 1-1 on February 14. And Eastern came close to a flying start yesterday. In the first minute, Tempest headed home a free-kick but had his celebrations interrupted by a linesman's flag. Two minutes later, Tempest crossed from the left and Tim O'Shea's header struck the South China crossbar. Grabo took a hold of the game in the sixth minute, putting Loh in the clear with a beautiful pass which took out two defenders. Loh finished in style - an almost identical goal to the one he scored against Eastern in their last meeting. Then, just over 10 minutes from half-time, Grabo charged down Lai Law-kau's attempted clearance, broke down the right and crossed for Whitehurst to score with a flying header off the underside of the bar. After a couple of chances at both ends early in the second half, South China settled the issue in the 55th minute, when Grabo took advantage of the chaos in the Eastern defence to set up Loh for his second. In the 73rd minute, South China had left-back Chan Wai-chiu sent off for a second bookable offence.