Following successful openers in the Saxo Markets Men’s Premiership and KPMG Women’s Premiership domestic leagues last weekend, those who failed to get off to winning starts are desperate for a swift turnaround. Previewing round two, which promises sharper performances both in terms of rugby and hygiene, coaches explained how preparations are going ahead of bounce-back season and outline the importance of their upcoming games for team momentum and player mindset. In the men’s league, Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish will open the weekend fixtures against a hungry DAC Kowloon. Both teams are seeking to get their first four points on the board having been pipped last week. “We were pretty disappointed that we didn’t really fire”, said HK Scottish coach Craig Hammond, whose eclectic squad of “nomads” were narrowly beaten Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay 23-15 in King’s Park. Hammond added that the three games were “pretty scrappy” compared to their usual standards but is nonetheless delighted rugby is back. “We struggled in the set piece and line-out and that had a knock-on effect. We gave up simple penalties, too. Credit to Sandy Bay for scoring some good tries ... but it’s up to us to be a lot better this week. Kowloon look good and it was a bit unlucky that the result did not go their way [last week]. They have good firepower all over the board. We respect the way they are playing,” added Hammond, who will be encouraged in the coming weeks as two new props from Australia and New Zealand will be available the following week. Similarly, Kowloon coach Scott Sneddon will want to demonstrate that last week’s late 20-13 loss to Societe Generale Valley was no start-of-season anomaly – the boys mean business. Kowloon managed to secure a bonus point thanks to number of tries scored so sit marginally ahead. Elsewhere, last season’s reigning champions Natixis Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) host Sandy Bay in what is lining up to be another classic, while Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers face Valley in a feisty fixture if last weekend was anything to go by. As it stands, HKFC retain the top spot on point-difference but it is simply far too early to tell whether that will remain the same by next year. Redemption is also highly sought after in the women’s league, as HKFC Ice want to shake off their several injuries sustained ahead of their match against newly promoted SCAA Causeway Bay Phoenix. Both HKFC and Causeway Bay need to avoid another defeat if they want to stick to their strategies of bagging early points in the 10-week plus Grand Championship season. Masks, tries and bagpipes – Hong Kong Premiership round-up Causeway Bay coach Wong Tsz-ying, though conceding most games would be tough for her still-developing side, reiterated her team’s confidence despite a heavy 41-5 loss to Gai Wu Falcons last week. “We may have lost, but the players are absolutely buzzing to be back competing,” Wong said. “The squad is very united and we’ve identified a lot of encouraging factors from last week, for example a lot of our young players played fearlessly in round one and have fit seamlessly into our new team structure. We’ve made changes to our offensive press and defensive tackling so there’s still some room to improve. We also need to work on our discipline because we gave some fouls away last time. “This weekend against Football Club, their forwards and backs are very stable and they are physically a bit bigger than us, so I hope we can use our flexibility to break their lines. Their back line has been reinforced by some new foreign recruits so we will need to withstand their pressure and execute our strategy. On paper, our forwards are just as good so hopefully we can take advantage of that. It’s not necessarily about winning every game, but more about their attitude the moment they step onto the pitch.” HKFC Ice coach Peter Ayres, whose girls were left disappointed having lost to Tigers Ladies 27-5 in round one, will also be looking for a lift up the league table but is well aware of Causeway Bay’s dangerous enthusiasm. Fans should also not sleep on the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s weekend pick between Tigers and reigning champions Valley Black Ladies in what could be a decisive moment in early season bragging rights. A win for either would likely extend their lead at the top. Perennial contenders Gai Wu will likewise be eyeing two wins from two against a pent-up Kowloon, who need to avoid further big-scoreline losses having been at the end of one to Valley last time out. Valley, Gai Wu and Tigers all sit on five points having earned bonuses for high-scorelines, but things could change drastically should the remaining three cause upsets on the weekend. Round two fixtures: Men’s HK Scottish vs Kowloon at 2pm, King’s Park HKFC vs HKU Sandy Bay at 3.30pm, HKFC USRC Tigers vs Valley at 5pm, King’s Park Women’s Gai Wu Falcons vs Kowloon at 4.30pm, Happy Valley USRC Tigers Ladies vs Valley Black Ladies at 6pm, King’s Park HKFC Ice vs SCAA Causeway Bay Phoenix at 6.15pm, HKFC Selected games will be live-streamed on the HKRU’s Facebook page.