HONG KONG—After round two of the Old Mutual Hong Kong Men’s Premiership, only Natixis HKFC remain unbeaten. HKFC edged a close and entertaining encounter against Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish at Shek Kip Mei on Saturday, winning 30-37.
HKFC was never behind on the scoreboard and did enough to keep Scottish at bay every time the gap narrowed. HKFC opened the scoring with two tries in the first quarter, by Jevon Groves and Marno Meyer, with one converted by Glyn Hughes. Scottish replied with a penalty from flyhalf Gregor McNeish. HKFC looked confident with a 3-12 lead and in the first half looked sharper and more confident than Scottish, and the team more likely to score next. After Charles Cheung of Scottish was yellow-carded, HKFC scored again through No.8 Marcus Slade, converted by Hughes, and established a comfortable 3-19 lead. Scottish managed a penalty on the cusp of half time, and the score was 6-19 at the end of the half.
Whatever was said by the respective coaches at half-time sparked the game into life. The first half was characterized by a dominant HKFC, with Scottish gamely adding to the scoreboard. The second half was a running rugby try-fest from both teams, adding 42 points and five tries.
Scottish opened the half with an immediate try by winger Jarrod Mongston touching down in the corner, converted by McNeish, narrowing the score to 13-19, making it less than a converted try between the two sides. HKFC added a penalty by Hughes, stretching their lead to 13-22, before Mongston scored again for Scottish, converted by McNeish, and narrowing the difference to only two points at 20-22.
Yet again, HKFC tightened their game. They broke the gain-line more frequently than Scottish and were more incisive with the ball in hand. They added the fourth try, for a deserved bonus point, scored by centre Tom Isaacs; Hughes again converted, easing HKFC to 20-29. Scottish tenaciously clawed back, with a try from fullback Ben Tyler, converted by McNeish, and the score once more was only a two-point difference at 27-29. HKFC again upped their game, scoring their fifth try to extend their lead to 27-34, before McNeish and Hughes traded penalties for the final scoreline, 30-37 to HKFC.
HKFC is the only undefeated premiership side, and the deserved bonus point victory, underlined their Championship material. The team looked balanced with a disciplined pack and sharp running, passing and tackling in the backs. They already look the benchmark side for the season.
In other matches, Société Générale Valley lost to Kowloon on Friday night 20-18 at Kings Park, and USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers deservedly scored their first win of the season with victory over Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC 29-16.
Although early days, after two matches, HKFC top the table with 9points; Tigers second with 7points; Scottish third with 6points; and Kowloon and Valley tied fourth with 5points; and HKKCC, still winless, propping the league table with 1point.
Grahame Carder is a sports enthusiast, former player and resident in Hong Kong.