Sandy Bay give Valley a fright before losing in Hong Kong Premiership
The Premiership new boys are clearly the improved team of the season as they push the defending champions right to the whistle at King’s Park on Saturday
Herbert Smith HKU Sandy Bay are clearly sick of losing. The new side in the Hong Kong’s men’s premiership won only one game last season (playing under the Hong Kong Cricket Club banner), and lost their opening match of the season last weekend to Natixis HKFC.
This week things were a bit different as they pushed perennial powerhouse and six-time defending grand championship final winners Societe Generale Valley right to the whistle in their second game of the season, but ended up losing 38-22 at King’s Park on Saturday. The team spent a fair portion of the game in Valley’s territory, showing improvement on both offence and defence.
Down by only two points at half, Sandy Bay have clearly improved their squad from last season under second year coach Brett Wilkinson, grinding hard against Valley and supported by a loud cheering section Saturday afternoon at Kings Park.
— HKRU (@HongKongRugby) September 28, 2018
Valley fullback Scotty Davidson, who came over this season from New Zealand, said his side were doing Sandy Bay favours all game and were a bit inconsistent.
“We were good in phases but once again we were just letting ourselves down with basic errors at the wrong times,” said the 31-year-old Kiwi. “We’ve put ourselves under pressure a bit too much, but when we got territory and held onto the ball we looked really good.”
Davidson, who was named one of the players of the game by his coach Andrew Kelly, said he can see his squad turning into the solid, cohesive unit that nabbed a half dozen championships in a row.
“It’s building,” he said. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction today, we just had a few too many turnovers at the wrong time.”
Valley were only up 14-12 at half-time, led by a penalty try and one by Martin Muller. In the second half, Valley took command for a chunk of time, going up 26-12 on tries by Ruan Duplooy and Harry Sayers. Sandy Bay staged a late game comeback, however, but could not mount a consistent counter-effort.
In the other early game Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish trounced Kerry Hotel Kowloon Rugby 59-14, scoring eight tries and led by fly-half Gregor McNeish, who had four successful conversion along with two penalty kicks. The match, held at Shek Kip Mei was a one-sided affair from the get-go as Scottish were up 37-0 at half-time.
Scottish got tries from a plethora of players including George Fleming, Andrew Henderson, Sean Taylor and Jack Wardle. Both Conor Hartley and Ben Cullen had two tries.
In the final match of the day, Natixis HKFC beat Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 15-12.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong men went undefeated in their first two games of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Korea
Another showdown with arch rival Japan feels imminent for the Hong Kong men’s sevens squad. In their first match of the tournament, the second leg in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, held in South Korea on Saturday, the men’s squad squeaked out a win against a surprisingly strong host team. Hong Kong ended up winning 15-12, led by tries by Ben Rimene, Salom Yiu Kam-shing and Toby Fenn.
In their second match, Hong Kong beat Sri Lanka 31-14, led by tries from five different players – James Hood, Jack Neville, Max Denmark, Michael Coverdale and Fenn.
The men round out their group play on Sunday morning against Taiwan. Japan, who won the first leg of the series, held at the Hong Kong Football Club, also went undefeated, beating Malaysia and the Philippines.
The women’s team split their games in the first day of action, crushing Sri Lanka 41-0. They got tries from six different players in the win, and Melody Li Nim-yan had two in the win.
The squad then lost to Japan 24-12, with Aggie Poon Pak-yan collecting two tries in a losing effort. The women round out their group play on Sunday morning against South Korea.