ONEwork’s Valley and Leighton Asia HKCC (Hong Kong Cricket Club) have progressed to the Hong Kong Rugby Union Premiership Grand Championship Final to be played at King’s Park this weekend.
Both HKCC and Valley completed the 12-match home-and-away season with six wins and six losses. Having finished third and fifth, respectively, and facing teams above them, to book a berth in the Grand Final was a terrific result for them.
Kowloon, Valley’s opponent in last weekend’s Semi-final, had a bye in the first week of the finals series by virtue of ending the season proper on top of the standings. Meanwhile, Valley, in the first week, had a hard-fought 24-11 win over Verizon HK Scottish.
Newedge Club, HKCC’s opponent in the semis, had cruised to a 60-7 victory over Borrelli Walsh Tigers the week before. Likewise, HKCC had had a comfortable 31-6 win against SCAA Standard Life CWB Rams.
With their opponent’s good form entering the semis, the chances were stacked against either Valley and HKCC coming away with the win, let alone both of them. But win they both did, setting up an intriguing, hard to pick clash on Saturday March 2.
Valley vs Kowloon
Sharp from the outset, Valley dominated play over Kowloon in the first half with two converted tries and two penalties.
Looking sluggish, perhaps due to the bye the week before, Kowloon struggled to score from the usually trusted boot of Chris McAdam and nothing was working like normal. Kowloon did get a penalty back just before half time to make the score 3-20 at the break.
Kowloon were first to score in the second half with a penalty, but the score was still 6-20 with 18 minutes of the game remaining. Valley forced a penalty against the run of play to make it 6-23 with 13 minutes to go.
In the final quarter of the game, Kowloon got their game motoring: their powerful pack working in harmony, winning scrums, rucks and mauls driving forward with relative ease. In fact the whole team put in a tremendous effort to try to salvage the match. But each time they approached the try line Valley just found the right response.
Kowloon pushed forward and camped on the Valley try line again. At one point they actually got the ball over the line, but the ball was held up. Kowloon did force a try in the dying seconds, but the conversion was missed; it didn’t matter as the game was already lost. Final score was 16-23 to Valley.
It was a good day for Valley’s goal kicker Ben Rimene who converted two tries and kicked three penalties.
Tim Eyres, a Valley Club member, one of the many coaches for Valley Mini Rugby and in control of the Valley ball-boys for the match, summed up the game for The Epoch Times:
“I thought the game was brilliant. Valley were on top all of the first-half and Kowloon made a great game of it in the second, and could have snatched it in injury time, but Valley just held on,” said Eyres.
“It was a cracking game played in the right spirit, so a great day for rugby,” he added.
HKCC vs Club
Leighton Asia HKCC won the other Semi-final against Newedge Club (30-13).
An ardent supporter of HKCC told The Epoch Times: “We were always in front. Up front we played magnificently well. It was 10-10 at half time, I remember. In the second half we just ran away with it. The two McQueen boys both scored tries. Tom scored the last one running half the length of the pitch.”
The Two Finalists
Earlier in the Premier League Championship, Valley, hampered by visa hold-ups at the start to the season, lost five consecutive games then came good in the second half with five straight wins, including one against Newage Club (34-18). But they did lose to Kowloon (26-11) in their final game of the season.
Leighton Asia HKCC have had many easy victories during the season against the lower order opponents, but have not quite had the firepower against the two top performers. But HKCC are always dangerous with their strong attacking line up.
Honours were even between the two finalists in the league—both winning their home games—so on neutral territory this should be a well-matched HKRFU Premiership Grand Championship Final.
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