Valley Black beat City Sparkle, 64-5, in the final Women’s Premiership match of 2016 at Shek Kip Mei. Defending league and Grand Champions Valley made a statement with their numbers – and not just on the scoreboard – as the side pulled out a win despite having eight of its regulars absent on international duty.
Six Valley players are with the national team squad as Hong Kong prepares for next week’s Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers, while two were away with the successful Hong Kong U18 Girls Sevens squad that won the Asia Rugby U18s Girls Sevens championship in Dubai.
Despite being light on numbers, Valley was keen to accept the fixture with City, as both sides wanted a run ahead of the winter break. With just 16 regular first team players available, Valley coach James Eliot called upon the club’s National League 1 players and they stepped up in fine fashion.
The team’s established players led the way for the newbies, with winger Laurel Chor and fullback Zoe Smith accounting for three tries each, while captain Olivia Coady collected a brace as the Valley juggernaut rolled on.
“Going in to a game without eight national team players would have probably put a big drain on almost any other club, but we called up the girls from our NL1 side and they really stepped up,” said Elliot.
“I’m so proud of them. We had so many players come into the game today, many of them playing out of position and knowing we needed them to play a huge amount of minutes, and they really came through. Some of the girls played more minutes today than they have all season,” Elliot added.
Today’s influx of players from the lower leagues brings Valley’s total numbers of players appearing in the Premiership to date this season to 34, as Valley adds depth to its growing list of threats.
Elliot credited City for meeting the fixture: “Everyone said we were crazy to want to play with only 16 players, but we didn’t play last week and neither did City and we both wanted to get more games in before the break,” Elliot added.
“And it was a really good game. City put up a great fight. They never let up and played with a lot of heart. The try they scored was a beauty, they ran right through us; there was a lot of good rugby played today by both sides,” Elliot added.
Today’s result returns Valley to the top of the table alongside Gai Wu Falcons, both of whom are on 29 points. Valley, with a game in hand, has the head-to-head advantage after beating Falcons a fortnight ago.
“We do need a break now,” said Elliot, “We’ve been working hard on our aggression around the pitch and in eliminating some communication issues and giving away fewer penalties and will continue to work on those things for when we start again.
“But we can take a lot of confidence from that result. It shows that we are more than just a team, we are a club and that even without our internationals we can still play winning rugby,” Elliot added.
Additional reporting and photo: HKRU