HONG KONG—Société Générale Valley ground-out a hard-fought victory 22-7 over Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish on Saturday in the Hong Kong Premiership at Happy Valley. The win, meant Valley now lead the Premiership after 4 games.
Whilst Valley will be satisfied with a win, both teams will feel this was a match of missed opportunity. Scottish played much of the game with only 14 men, after prop Jack Parfitt was red carded early in the second half, having already been yellow carded in the first half. With 15 versus 14, Valley should have scored four tries for a bonus point, but could not breech the Scottish defense.
Valley started the match the brighter of the two teams. Their early pressure, with a resurgent pack, gave Scottish problems that led to a penalty try, and a 7-0 lead. Flyhalf Matt Rosslee, extended the Valley lead to 10-0 with a long-range penalty goal midway through the first-half.
Despite Valley leading, Scottish looked sharper with the ball in hand, but could not penetrate the Valley defense. The narrow pitch at Happy Valley seemed to constrain the expansive game of Scottish, who are used to the greater width at Shek Kip Mei.
On the stroke of half-time, Valley prop, Taukihamea Koloamatangi powered through the Scottish defense, and set-up centre Ally Maclay to score in the corner. The conversion was missed, but Valley went into half-time with a comfortable 15-0 lead, having taken every opportunity presented during the half.
The start of the second-half was pivotal to the match: Jack Parfitt was redcarded. With numeric superiority Valley felt confident of the win, and Scottish knew defense rather than attack would dominate their own game-plan.
Although Valley dominated the half they could only manage one converted try, by No.8 Karetai Williams. Scottish, defended exceptionally well, and even found the impetus to launch a final attack to score a deserved consolation try, by their No. 8 Josh Dowsing converted by Gregor McNeish.
The match finished 22-7 to Valley, but they may rue missing out on a bonus point. Scottish despite being a man down, went toe-to-toe with Valley for the second-half, and will wonder what the scoreline would have been had they played the full match with fifteen players.
In other results on Saturday, Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC managed to secure a creditable victory, with an away win over league leaders Natixis HKFC, 27-19. This time HKCC started aggressively, and did not let their grip on the match slip. For HKCC it was an overdue first win of the season; and for HKFC, their first loss. At Kings Park, Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers edged Kowloon 13-10, in another close match.
Valley now top the league table after 4 rounds, with 14 points, followed by HKFC on 13, Tigers with 11, Scottish 10, and Kowloon and HKCC both with 7.
Last week, in Sri Lanka, the Hong Kong Men’s Seven qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco. Hong Kong won the third leg of the Asian Sevens tournament, needing an outright victory to secure a World Cup place, as well as the Qualifying tournament at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens. Hong Kong had to beat their nemesis Japan twice over the weekend. Having been so close to beating Japan on a number of occasions, to do so twice in one tournament, and win the silverware, was a hugely satisfying achievement, and augurs well for an exciting 2018 for Hong Kong.
Grahame Carder is a sports enthusiast, former player and resident in Hong Kong.