HKRU Premiership: HKFC squeak by Scottish in barn burner to remain undefeated
Level of play and skill getting better each season, says Scottish coach Hammond after loss to the Sports Road side in the third week of competition
Bloomberg HK Scottish coach Craig Hammond is sure of one thing when it comes to this year’s men’s Hong Kong rugby premiership.
“This is the toughest season I’ve seen in a long time,” said Hammond. “In at least seven or eight years, the level of competition and skill across all the teams is like nothing I’ve seen before. The guys are just all playing at such a high level.”
Hammond’s team lost 24-17 to Natixis HKFC in the third week of play. This moves Scottish and the HKFC to 2-1. Only HKFC is undefeated three weeks and the only squads that has not etched out a win are Herbert Smith HKU Sandy Bay and Kerry Hotel Kowloon Rugby, who lost a close game to the Borelli Walsh USRC Tigers on Saturday 22-17. Once again Sandy Bay led a late charge against their opponents but were unable to secure a come-from-behind win.
HKFC were up 17-7 over Scottish at half-time on two tries by Tom Isaacs, but Scottish battled back to tie the game up at 17-17, getting scores from Gregor McNeish and a penalty try. With less than 10 minutes remaining HKFC’s Jevon Groves broke through on a scrum to eventually give his team the 24-17 win. Hammond said it was a heartbreaking loss, but this seems to be the nature of play this year, wins are frequently being decided in the dying minutes.
“To lose like that on a try so late is always tough,” he said. “But I’m still really impressed with the boys, they put in a good effort and we’ll just learn from our mistakes and move forward.”
Hammond said each week is turning out to be a battle for each squad.
“Valley, Tigers, Football Club, everybody is bloody good this year, you have to come to compete every week or you’re going to lose for sure. I think a lot of the teams are still feeling each other out too, there’s a lot of new players in the league this year, a lot of skilled players in from the outside, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out, it will not be like last year that is for sure.”
In the final game of the day Societe Generale Valley beat Kerry Hotel Kowloon Rugby 30-17. Valley were up 15-9 at half-time on tries by Mitchell Purvis and Harry Sayers, and ended up getting scores from Ruan Duplooy and Karetai Williams. Thomas Bury scored for Kowloon late in the game.
Correction: this article originally stated that no team was unbeaten in the premiership. HKFC are currently unbeaten.