UBB Gavekal celebrate back-to-back GFI HKFC 10s titles

Fiji Sevens backs score four tries in the final, Samurai lift Plate, Hong Kong’s Scottish Exiles grab the Bowl while hosts Natixis HKFC claim the Shield

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 7:51am

UBB Gavekal retained the Bill Burgess Cup at the 33rd GFI HKFC 10s as a late try by Fiji Sevens back Leveni Kurimalawai secured a thrilling 24-17 win over a Tradition YCAC side dominated by New Zealanders on Thursday night.

UBB’s Fiji Sevens backs proved the difference as Samu Bale touched down for an early opener, Sakeo Raloa added two tries and Kurimalawai scored the winner after the sides were locked at 17-17 at Hong Kong Football Club.

Representing Top 14 club Union Bordeaux Begles, UBB were surprise winners last year, but this year lived up to their top-seed status as head coach Matt Clarkin – the former UBB captain – led his side to a second successive victory.

“We’re ecstatic. We’re ecstatic! We knew going back-to-back was going to be an even bigger challenge than coming last year as underdogs, but we thrived on that challenge and the boys showed up hungry and they got the job done,” said Clarkin, whose five Fiji Sevens players included forwards Keponi Paul and Vasikali Mudu.

“The Fiji guys did for us what they did for us last year, but our trademark is working hard for each other. I think that’s still our strength and I think you saw that in the final. To have three yellow cards against you and still come out on top is a huge feat so I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

UBB ran out to a quick 12-0 lead with tries from Bale and Raloa, before New Zealand’s Angus Gibbens pulled one back for YCAC. Raloa extended UBB’s lead to 17-5 before tries by New Zealand’s Te Puoho Stephens and Tonga’s Willie Fotofili made it 17-17, but Kurimalawai scored late on to ensure captain Nick Smith was left lifting the Cup.

“It was the same thing as last year: we just came together as a tight unit,” said Smith, who scored four tries from flyhalf, while compatriot Renata Tenana also scored four tries over the two days.

“We’re all from different parts of the world, from Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Hong Kong, but at the end of the day, it’s how you gel together.”

Doddie Weir, the former Scotland and Lions lock suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, walked out with the match ball for the final and was presented with a HK$100,000 cheque for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the tournament’s official charity.

Fourth seeds Samurai International won the second-tier Plate as an all-Fijian squad led by player-coach Nasoni Roko beat A-Trade Overseas Old Boys 28-7. Samurai’s dreams of winning the Cup for the first time were shattered by King’s College, who scored a last-play try to win a dramatic Cup quarter-final 15-14.

Natixis HKFC co-captains Tom Isaacs and Mitch Andrews lifted the Shield after the hosts beat Irish Vikings 17-0. It was a popular victory for the home side after an impressive domestic season and a personal triumph for Isaacs, a former Wales Sevens back who lost in the Plate final twice when playing for Cardiff University in 2006 and 2007.

“We’re very happy. It was a tough two days, but we’re really proud of the way the boys performed in the last two games. I got to the Plate final twice before and actually lost against the Irish Vikings one time, so personally it was nice for me to get that win,” said Isaacs, whose team were boosted by former Australia Sevens speedster Josh Coward, who scored three tries.

Cup Final: UBB Gavekal 24 Tradition YCAC 17

Plate Final: Samurai International 28 A-Trade Overseas Old Boys 7

Bowl Final: Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles 38 Hunter + Boo East Africans 7

Shield Final: Natixis HKFC 17 Irish Vikings 0