DAC Kowloon men beat ImpactHK HKU Sandy Bay 18-12 to get their Dettol Men’s Premiership season off to a flying start at a baking hot King’s Park on Saturday. In the afternoon heat, the first 20 minutes of the season were a grind for both teams. Each team spent long stretches of the opening quarter in the other’s half, but both defences held strong early on, as timing and first game miscues prevented either side from drawing blood. DAC Kowloon shook off the off-season rust first, conjuring a convincing 18-12 win – one that included a stiff rearguard action after they went down to 14 men ahead of the final quarter at King’s Park. Six of seven penalties for fly half Harry Johnston provided Kowloon’s firepower on the day, while Sandy Bay scored tries in either half, but couldn’t convert their pressure down the stretch. Coaches and captains talk revamps, transitions and recruits At half-time, the score was 9-5 in Kowloon’s favour, after Johnson opened the scoring on 25 minutes with a penalty to take a 3-0 lead. Sandy Bay replied in the next passage of play, working the ball deep into Kowloon territory from the restart, to set up an attacking line-out five metres from the try line. The line-out, a favourite weapon of Sandy Bay, worked to perfection, and prop Zac Cinnamond was deposited over the line for the first try of the 2021-22 season. Centre Tertius Kruger’s kick from the left touchline was no good, as Sandy Bay led 5-3 after 28 minutes. Johnston added two more penalties for Kowloon in the final stages, including one on 40 minutes to put his side in the lead at half-time. After the teams had found their groove, the backlines of both came into play. On balance Sandy Bay generated the better attacking chances, but their execution went missing, as line-break after line-break was turned over in contact by a committed Kowloon defence. Indiscipline also hurt the visitors, as numerous Sandy Bay chances were turned over on penalties at the ruck and maul. HKRU Women’s Premiership coaches and captains hungry to return to normality Discipline turned the game in the third quarter, with Johnston doubling his first half output after just 17 minutes of the second half, slotting three more penalties to push Kowloon ahead 18-5 at the hour marker. Johnston was on target with five of his first six chances, before missing a shot from halfway. He eventually finished six of seven, scoring all of Kowloon’s points. The hosts’ hopes of playing out the clock with a comfortable lead were disrupted by an unlucky red card against Kowloon winger Fong Kit-fong, who failed to bring Spanton down to ground safely after claiming a contested clearance kick. Down to 14, the crowd seemed resigned to a Sandy Bay win, but Kowloon threw everything into a final quarter defensive effort, which barely held off Sandy Bay down the stretch. Sandy Bay still struggled with their point-to-point attack, but ex-captain Gair Currie brought the game back into the balance with a brilliant 80-metre interception try from a Kowloon attack. Currie converted his own penalty to close the gap to 18-12 to set up a frenetic final few minutes. With less than five minutes left, Sandy Bay No 8 Luke Van der Smit looked to have crossed the try-line but was judged to have been held up in the tackle. Kowloon cleared their lines and ran out the clock. Kowloon captain Dave Markham was happy with his side’s defence. “I’m very pleased with the effort, especially after going down to 14 men for the last 20 minutes. We stuck in really well as a team. In the end it was less about tactics or techniques, and all about getting stuck in really, and it worked. Sandy Bay were left ruing what could have been. New captain Lewis Wilson chalked the performance up to a lack of preseason competition. “Not the start we wanted and I think the fact that we did not have any preseason matches showed; but we also showed that we are here to play a different style, we’re not here to kick points, we want to play from anywhere on the pitch. In other Men’s Premiership action, Societe Generale Valley lost 29-14 to Natixis HKFC at Happy Valley, while KPMG HK Scottish fell to Kroll USRC Tigers, 44-22.