Six in a row as Valley stop rampaging Tigers for Men’s Premiership grand championship title
Delight for Kelly’s men and agony for this season’s league winners as Valley end rivals fairy-tale season in league finale at King’s Park
Early kicking and down-to-the-wire tackling were key for Societe Generale Valley, who secured their sixth consecutive Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership grand championship at King’s Park on Saturday evening.
Valley held on to win 22-20 against league winners Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers, despite Tigers almost staging an electric comeback having been down 22-3 at half-time.
“We’re absolutely delighted,” said Valley coach Andrew Kelly. “We built a lead and that was the vital difference. We were in control for the first 60 minutes, Tigers came back and ripped into us but we did so well to hold out.”
A superb first-half kicking display from Valley fly-half Ben Rimene settled any pre-existing jitters before winger Josh Gordon grounded the team’s only try of the night.
“Ben was absolutely spot on today. He controlled the game well and kicked amazingly,” Kelly said.
“It’s a shame we lost our composure and let them in the last 20 minutes, but we were able to contain them.
Capping off the season off with the ever-familiar grand championship trophy could be just the catalyst Valley needs going forward.
“It’s been a pretty tricky season,” said Kelly. “We’ve had ups and downs, injuries … we have to build for next season and improve our league record.”
Tigers could not add to their fairy-tale league-winning season but captain [Josh Hrstich] was very proud of his team’s second-half performance and season as a whole.
“It definitely hurts, but they are a quality side and have been in this position so many times,” said [Hrstich].
“They came out and were off to the races. We knew we could come back and get a sniff but we let them get away too far. To be the regular season champions and to lose to a team that has won the last six times, the players deserve a hell of a lot of credit and we know there’s something special brewing.”
Hooker Dayne Jans was named man of the match but the whole pack of forwards should be commended for its collective – albeit late – defensive shutdown in the final phases of the game.
Coach Kelly also tipped his hat to Tigers coach Sam Hocking, who rejuvenated the team from three wins last season to league champions in a year.
“They’ve had a great season and were league winners deservedly,” said Kelly. “They are a quality outfit but just came up short today.”