The Dettol Hong Kong Premiership Rugby Competition has been showcasing the talented rugby players across Hong Kong and round three was no exception. Kowloon Rugby Club made the trip across the harbour to take on Hong Kong Football Club. Get the full low down on each of the premiership matches from the premier team head coaches.
Terry Sibanda - Premier Women's Head Coach
It was a tough day at the office for the Kowloon Ladies. Pitted against rivals HKFC at their home ground with a 1:30pm kick-off, Kowloon did their best to prepare to endure the heat of the day, however they were not quite prepared for a resilient HKFC side that had previous lost to Kowloon in their last 3 encounters. Kowloon had no doubt that this would be a tough encounter but failed to get into the right gear early on.
Opting to kick to HKFC first and apply pressure, Kowloon found themselves defending well for the first 5 minutes resulting in turnover possession. Kowloon quickly lost possession back to HKFC and were back defending endlessly as HKFC continued to hammer the Kowloon defence line at fast pace. Kowloon held well but a lazy infringement at the breakdown from a tired body handed HKFC their first shot at goal with Aileen Ryan comfortably slotting over 3 points. Kowloon regathered at the halfway and put on another display of good defence with solid tackles not giving HKFC much momentum going forward. However another lazy infringement at the breakdown handed HKFC a penalty which they kicked into the corner to set up and attacking line out. Kowloon’s forwards who have been dominant in the line outs so far the season now found themselves on a strong driving maul by HKFC which they managed to stifle just before the try line. Despite Kowloon’s efforts HKFC muscled their way over the line taking their tally up 8 with Kowloon still yet to register any points on the board. Kowloon went back to the re-start and pressurised HKFC into an error turning over possession back to Kowloon. Kowloon galvanised some phases together and probed HKFC’s half asking question. This cause defensive problems for HKFC and awarded Kowloon 3 consecutive penalties, with the 3rd being within reach of Kowloon’s first points on the board. Montana Heslop stepped up and slotted over for Kowloon’s first points on the board narrowing the gap to 5 points. Some how at the restart Kowloon found themselves under pressure in their own half but managed to stop and advancing HKFC gaining a penalty in the process. The half came to a close with Kowloon trailing with 3 points and HKFC in the lead with 8.
The second half began with back and forth tussle between the two teams. Kowloon tried to string quality phases together, but the lack of support and handling skills meant that they were unable to it HKFC under any pressure. Kowloon found themselves defending again and managed to force HKFC in to spilling the ball just inside Kowloon’s 22. What should have been a routine scrum and clearance kick turned into a messy scrum due to pressure, the ball was passed out to the backs who a had a runner who found themselves isolated due to lack of support. A quick turnover by HKFC resulted in another try to the opposition putting the scores at Kowloon 3 – 15 HKFC. Kowloon brought on their impact players from the bench and they added some tempo to Kowloon’s attack not allowing HKFC to get comfortable with their lead. A good passage of a set piece scrum saw Kowloon hitting the HKFC midfield and release Sarah MacPherson out wide. Sarah turned on her jet shoes and went on mazy run to the try line leaving defenders throwing out flailing arms. The 17 year old’s pace shocked the crowd and players alike and created a spark in the Kowloon team. Sadly some handling errors put Kowloon back in defence after the restart. Pushed back into their own half they forced HKFC to drop the ball. Kowloon had the ball at the scrum, but a counter scrum by HKFC saw them win the ball and score in the corner for another try putting the scores at 20-10 in their favour. Kowloon had one more chance to re-galvanise at the restart but more errors in defence quickly led to another HKFC try making it 25-10.
The game to a close shortly after. The lack of possession high number of basic errors meant Kowloon could not get the win. It was a disappointing defeat as there were crucial pieces of the puzzle missing. Kowloon will be looking to review and rebuild in the coming week after a game that provided harsh lessons and a wake up call.
Joe Barker - Men's Premier Head Coach
On a very hot sunny day the loonies travelled to Hong Kong Football Club for their first game outside of Kings Park. A tough challenge up against the reigning champs but one the squad were prepared to take on.
The first 20 minutes did not go well for the loon conceding a chip and chase try and a penalty. With the score at 10-0 and Kowloon not getting out their half this could have been a tough ask. After the water break they came out calm and ready to inflict the game plan they wanted. After lots of good play and pressure put onto Club, the loon gained points through Harry Johnston and got back to within 4 points. With the second half coming close Club broke the line and then put in a kick which left Mike Hanning under pressure 5m out for the line, after some great work from Huw Alexander at the breakdown loon got out of trouble and the half time whistle blew.
The second half begun with Club playing out from their own half and then putting in a kick which pinned us into our 22 and forced us to kick out only getting as far as the 22m line. The Lineout was stolen by Jonny Kenny and the Loon went straight on the attack and after a few phases Harry put in a lovely chip for Lewis warner to catch and then pass an inside ball to Kenny who dragged the Club defender with him into the 22m line followed by an offload to George Watkins who drove on with great leg drive. Good support from a rampaging Tom Concu left Club unable to form their defensive line as he flew onto the ball and straight through a big gap to score for the Loon, what a great team try from a turnover in our own 22m. Harry converted to put Kowloon ahead 10-13.
Over the next 5 minutes we showed some passages of good game management and forced Club into their own 22m with a lineout to come. Club retained their line out and exited with a box kick down the line to narrowly make the touchline. Quick thinking from Huw Alexander lets the game play on with a sideline throw in and catches Club off guard. George Watkins receives a ball on the half way line and sees his opportunity to break the disjointed defence line and steps inside. Lewis Warner shows great support and comes under on the switch and resulting in a one on one with the full back. Lewis shows great footwork and beats the last defender to go under the posts. Harry converts once again and the Loon are up 10-20.
Over the next 20minutes both teams show good passages of play in both attack and defence, this leads to Club getting into the Loon 22 and getting over with some picks and go’s. This takes the score to 17-20, with a big last 10 minutes to come.
As the clock counts down the Loon keep on the pressure, gaining a penalty 40m out. A tough angle to hit and with ice in his veins Harry steps up and it goes straight through the sticks, adding another 3 points to the tally, the score goes up 17-23. A nervous finish to the game once gain by the Loon, with not long left we gain a penally just to the right of the sticks 25 m out. With Harry off the pitch, Mike Hanning steps up to take over the kicking duties. The ball clips the inside of the post to go over and secure another 3 points. Small in points, but important in the outcome as this takes the lead past a converted try. Some outstanding defensive sets lead to a turnover from Isaac Cavu to finish the game 17-26 to the Loonies. Another nail biter but a better performance all round from Kowloon.
Big week ahead going into Valley who have a strong team with a lot of experience and ability. Up the Loonies!
Ed Styles - Premier A Head Coach
Off the back of a great win for the Kowloon Prems against Football Club, it was the Claymores turn to take the field to emulate the grit and determination shown to overcome a very good Football Club Dragons team. This week however, it wasn’t to be, despite a brilliant start with Tik Wong opening the scoring after gathering an attacking kick from Oli Hobman to make it 0-5. Throughout the first half, Kowloon threatened to break the FC defence but inaccuracies at the breakdown meant we we couldn’t turn our good play and pressure into much needed points. Similarly, throughout both halves, our defensive line was well organised, and we managed to contain a lot of the FC pressure but individual missed tackles and a gulf in pace and power meant they scored some very good tries. Credit to the Loonies, we never gave up. A special mention goes to Leo To who from the first minute to the last put everything he had into our defensive efforts. As was discussed post game, we must take the positives, and keep building from week to week as it was noticeable that even though the we were on the wrong side of the scoreboard, our performance improved. Next up...Valley Knights. UP THE LOON!