EXPRESS pulled off a surprise countback victory over title favourites Cathay Pacific in the opening round of the U2 Premier League at the Hong Kong Squash Centre last night. Cathay Pacific, led by Hong Kong's number one Faheem Khan, were considered the team to beat for the $40,000 championship prize but they had to start the campaign without number three Richard Bolton, who was sidelined by injury. Promising junior Wong Wai-hang gave Cathay Pacific the first point with a straight games triumph over Dick Leung Kan-fai and Khan made it 2-0 by beating Andrew Shum Siu-chung 15-9, 13-15, 15-11, 15-6. The situation looked bleak for Express when national coach Chris Clark, the Cathay Pacific number three, who returned from Scotland earlier in the day, took the first game off Chan Siu-sing. The long flight, however, took its toll on veteran Clark, who was in Edinburgh for the Masters World Championships in which he reached the quarter-finals in the over-45 division, as he faded badly. Clark could hardly stand in the fourth game in which he won only three points, and Chan clinched the rubber 7-15, 15-10, 15-12, 15-3. Former Hong Kong champion Kent Li Kwok-ho crushed Kevin Ryan in three games to level the tally for Express, who got the two team points for a 4-2 victory on countback of points, winning it 176-171. A depleted Fuji, without their number one Jay Lim, shocked Eagle Star when John Choi Wing-yiu and Allen Ngan Wai-ming won their matches. Lim, an aspiring professional from Malaysia, is in the United States for a series of satellite tournaments and is scheduled to arrive in the territory on October 12. Eagle Star were expected to take full points and they started the match promisingly with Peter Hill and Ian Hardy easily brushing aside Tony Choi Yuk-kwan and William Tai Wai-nam respectively. Ngan collected a point for Fuji when he outlasted Joseph Kwok Man-wai in five games and to everyone's surprise John Choi also stopped Alan Hicks after going the full distance and Eagle Star ended the evening with four points. Youthful Rubicon top the league standings after the opening round following a 5-1 victory over Perrier at Kowloon Cricket Club.