After more than nine months without local rugby, the Saxo Men’s Hong Kong Premiership finally got under way at King’s Park on a sweltering Saturday with teams shaking off the cobwebs and testing out new recruits. Reigning champions Natixis Hong Kong Football Club started their league title defence with a solid 33-13 win over a rejuvenated Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers. Jack Wiggins’ men battled through a feisty first half as both teams tried to grab the game by the horns. “Most of the rust is gone – there’s still going to be a little bit out there but hey how good is it to be playing again? You look across the world, no-one’s playing rugby and here we are blessed to be up and running. It’s an amazing testament to how we’ve dealt with everything,” Wiggins said, adding that he was impressed by the much-improved Tigers. Ultimately, it was Football Club’s experienced forward scrum who dictated the tempo for the victory. Both teams were culpable of giving away careless penalties – perhaps an indication that teams are still adjusting to new regulations – but it was more a case of ironing creases before the season is in full swing. Early penalties from respective fly-halves Glyn Hughes and Josh Henderson ensured both sides kept up with tight margins in the first half. However, it was a similar story to last year as a relentless Football Club pulled away thanks to a try from Benjamin Axten-Burrett and Tigers conceding a couple of penalty tries. “Getting the first [game] out the way is important. There was lot of pressure on us this week. It wasn’t pretty but I think once again we proved that we stick in the fight. We know we have the squad to finish games. Bit disappointing in the end not to get the bonus point, but it’s a win and that takes us nicely into next week,” Wiggins added. While Tigers’ local lad Cado Lee Ka-to managed to close the gap with a try in the end, it was Scottish new boy Henderson’s solid kicking display that caught they eye for coach Sam Hocking. There was no time to dwell on last season for Hocking, who was encouraged by Tigers’ first season-opener. “It’s been a long time off, so we’re happy to be back on the ground and running. We feel very fortunate if anything,” he said. “I’m happy with the start. We gave away a lot of penalties and that probably hurt us in the end. We’ve got three or four new guys, they’ve added well. You look at the way Josh Henderson performed today, he was outstanding.” There was one aspect of the game that will be on the top of Hocking’s list when Tigers get back to the drawing board. “Discipline. We shot ourselves in the foot – we gave them too may easy outs. We put them under a little bit of pressure and then we let them off by giving away silly penalties. That hurt us in the end. It’s just a bit of game understanding more than anything. We need to be a little bit smarter in the way we play. “They’re a good side, but I think most coaches will say that on the day, most sides can beat each other. It’s just finding the rub of the green and whichever team comes out on top. Football Club first up gives up a good benchmark from here. We’ll build.” To open the new season’s “Super Saturday”, Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay beat Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish 26-15 as last season’s mid-table scrappers put on another classic with bagpipe-heavy background music courtesy of the latter. HKU Sandy Bay tallied points throughout thanks to fly-half Jack Metters. However, it was far from smooth sailing at half-time as Scottish’s full-back Sean Taylor scored to take a narrow lead. HKU Sandy Bay came out with a second-half blitz with breakaway tries from veterans Liam Slatem and Alexander McQueen. A late try from surging Scottish’ Mark Coebergh narrowed the gap but they ultimately ran out of time. To close a successful season-opener, Societe Generale Valley beat DAC Kowloon 20-13 thanks to tries from captain Ruan du Plooy and Mitchell Purvis.