Joe Ellyatt, ‘the most un-English English bloke in the world’, scores winning try for Tigers in Hong Kong Premiership thriller
The 27-year-old seals the deal as his side sneak home 31-28 against Scottish, while Valley and Kowloon also win
He’s been labelled “the most un-English English bloke in the world” by his new teammates and flanker Joe Ellyatt has slotted in perfectly in his first season at the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers.
The 27-year-old has played a key role for the Tigers over the opening five rounds of the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership and was the star of the show on Saturday, scoring the winning try in his side’s 31-28 win over Bloomberg HK Scottish.
From Jersey in the UK, Ellyatt arrived in Hong Kong ahead of the 2017-18 season on the back of four years playing for Stade Rouennais in France’s third-tier Federale 1 league.
He’s earned the nickname Kiwi Joe for his “un-Englishness” and is enjoying the free-flowing nature of Hong Kong rugby.
“It’s a very different game to France, obviously the weather and the pitches make a big difference,” he said. “In France, they love big humans, it’s a lot more physical there but it’s a lot slower as well.
“You have got to be fitter here and I think probably the skills are a bit better here. I’m glad I joined this team, it’s a great bunch of lads and it’s a team on the up.”
Saturday’s last-gasp win was Tigers second nail-biting victory in as many weeks and Ellyatt can feel the belief growing within the group.
“We know we have got a good squad, there have been a couple of games where we have started a little bit slow but we have had that confidence and belief to close out games,” he said.
“We kind of knew in the back of our heads that we were going to come good, it was just a matter of whether we could properly finish it off or not. We made it difficult for ourselves, but it was all the sweeter at the end to get the win.”
Tigers trailed 28-10 at half-time after Jarrod Mongston, Ben Tyler and Mark Coebergh scored tries for Scottish, but they dug in their heels after the break and killed their opponents’ momentum.
Hong Kong’s World Cup qualifiers the target for Alex Harris as he works back to fitness after ACL injury
They left their run until as late as possible, however, with Josh Walden crossing on 67 minutes to spark the comeback, before Josh Hrstich crossed in the 78th minute to set the stage for Ellyatt to seal the deal in the dying seconds.
“Once we got the scrum 40 metres out I thought we had a pretty good chance, the boys that we brought on just gave some great energy and really drove us home,” Tigers’ coach Sam Hocking said about the winning play.
“We were pretty flat in the first half, gave them 28 points and we were just forcing it too much. At the end of the day, we came out in the second half and didn’t make any mistakes.”
After packing down together at Pontypool, new Hong Kong debutant Dan Barlow leans on old friend Alex Ng
Elsewhere, Societe Generale Valley defeated Natixis HKFC 41-31 and Kowloon were too strong for Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC, winning 44-27.
In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, Gai Wu and Tigers fought out a 17-17 draw, Tai Po held off CWB Phoenix 10-7, Valley smashed HKFC 71-0 and Kowloon romped home 34-12 against City Sparkle.