Culture built on respect driving Kowloon towards Hong Kong Premiership glory: Turoa Stephens
James Scaysbrook’s side seal second spot with win over HK Scottish as Valley take out second consecutive league championship
Powerful forward Turoa Stephens says he has never before played in a side like the current Kowloon outfit and credits a mutual respect among the players as the driving force this season.
In the final minor round of the Hong Kong Premiership on Saturday, Kowloon secured second spot with a 28-17 win over Bloomberg HK Scottish, while Societe Generale Valley claimed a second consecutive league championship with a 61-26 victory over Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC.
“I have never been in a team where everyone is working together like this,” Stephens said.
“We are working really hard for each other. Everyone is willing to get off the ground and make hits for each other.”
Kowloon now get the benefit of a week off in the first week of finals and a home semi-final and Stephens is looking forward to seeing what he and his teammates can achieve in the coming weeks.
“The boys are really up for it, everyone is putting their all into every weekend,” he said. “We all get along really well and everyone respects each other.”
Twenty-year-old Stephens is one of the five players who came to Hong Kong from the development programme of Super Rugby’s Chiefs in November last year.
He says his time in Hong Kong has helped his rugby development and the back-rower is enjoying working with Kowloon coach James Scaysbrook, himself a forward who had a long career for Bath and Exeter in the English Premiership.
“He’s really helped me a lot with little skills and has little work-ons for me every week,” Stephens said.
“It’s opened up more opportunities for me coming over here and I’m developing heaps.”
Stephens played for Hautapu in Waikato before coming to Hong Kong, where he suited up alongside former All Black Liam Messam.
“He’s one of my idols, I was playing eight and he was at six,” Stephens said. “His aggressiveness around the ruck and his tackling, he really latches on and drives you through the holes.”
Stephens scored the final try as Kowloon got the better of Scottish, at one stage leading 23-3 on the back of tries to Ben Madgwick, Lewis Warner and James Sawyer and the accurate kicking of fly half Jack Neville.
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Scottish stormed back to within six points thanks to tries from winger Marcus Ramage and fullback Peter Breen, before Stephens closed out the win.
“Obviously he’s [Stephens] a really good carrier, but he has also got really good enthusiasm to get out there and play,” Scaysbrook said.
“This is something we have been trying to push and he fits into that. He wants to get out there and he wants to make things happen.”
Valley made light work of HKCC to continue their dominant run on what was a big day for the club.
“It was a brilliant day, our seconds team won the league, our ladies team won the league and it was a really good Valley day,” Valley coach Andrew Kelly said.
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The other match saw Natixis HKFC belt Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 37-8, meaning next week’s quarter-finals see Scottish host Tigers and rivals HKFC and HKCC clash.
It was an 8-7 win over CPM Gai Wu Falcons that saw Valley finish top in the KPMG Women’s Premiership in a season dominated by the two sides.
Elsewhere, SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix defeated Comvita City Sparkle 10-0.