Valley Black Power Past USRC Tigers

It was another Valley Black onslaught at Happy Valley as the defending Grand Champions put USRC Tigers away early with three tries in the opening 20 minutes, before lapses in concentration saw them drift for the remainder of the half.

James Elliot, Valley’s coach, credited a tough Tigers pack and injuries to several key players – Hong Kong internationals Adrienne Garvey, Colleen Tjosvold and Stephanie Cuvelier were all missing from the backline – as partial reasons for the drift. “Tigers were really strong at the scrums and dominated us on a few occasions,” said Elliot.

“We also had a lot of unforced errors due to a lack of cohesion in the backs as there were quite a few replacements today, some of whom hadn’t trained together or even played yet this season. But we still have four weeks remaining to work on that cohesion before the Grand Championships” added Elliot.

Valley scored seven tries with flanker Olivia Coady and No.8 Amelie Seure both collecting braces, while Nadia Cuvelier, Zoe Smith and Caitlin Spencer added tries of their own. Smith added four conversions.

With four of those tries coming from the forwards, Elliot gave due credit to his back row trio of flankers Coady and Toto Cheng and No.8 Seure for holding up to the Tigers challenge.

“Amelie and Olivia combined really well and Toto was everywhere causing problems for the Tigers, she was a real livewire.”

Adrienne Davis, promoted from the club’s NL1, performed well as did Spencer, who scored Valley’s opening try on her first match for the club in five years after recently returning to Hong Kong.

Extra tackling practice is likely this week after two Valley players were sin-binned in the final ten minutes for high tackles, allowing Tigers to put their only points on the board in the 76th minute. Valley Black have now conceded just 21 points over eight games this season.

In the days other Premiership action current table toppers Gai Wu Falcons comfortably beat HKFC Ice 73-3, Valley have two games in hand on the league leaders. Kowloon were left frustrated after a narrow loss to Causeway Bay Phoenix in a match where it enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but saw the result slip from their hands through unforced errors.

Additional reporting and photos: HKrugby

Premiership Preview – 21 January, 2017

Valley Black take on the USRC Tigers as first plays third in the Women’s Premiership Game of the Week at Happy Valley, kick-off is at 6pm. The Tigers have made big strides this season as they look to close the gap on the league’s front-runners but will have to be at the top of their game having lost the reverse fixture 32-3 earlier in the season.

Tigers Coach Liu Kwok-leung noted that his side could still be a bit rusty as their 61-10 win over Kowloon last weekend was their first competitive match since November – and despite the lengthy lay-off, the Tigers are struggling with injuries.

“We’ll probably bring some players up for the game against Valley, which will make getting the result that much harder, but it will give a chance for the younger players to get more experience,” said Liu.

“Valley is a tough game, but we’ll do our best. We’ve been preparing hard, and we know them much better now than when we met earlier this season. We’ve been working a lot on our defence, as if you can’t defend against Valley, you have no chance to attack,” added Liu.

Liu is also encouraged by the rapid development of some young players in the Tigers set-up: “We’ve got a few U18 girls coming through, which is really exciting. Hebe Talas will start this week on the wing. She’s a quality athlete and will be a major player for us in the future.”

Talas, and forward Maelle Picut who will start on the bench, were part of the U18s girls sevens side that won Hong Kong’s first Asian U18s Girls Sevens Championship last December, scoring a try in the final, a 12-5 win over Kazakhstan. “I’m really looking forward to see how these girls go,” said Liu

The Tigers’ U18s could find themselves facing their Hong Kong team-mates Kelsie Bouttle and Clare Coey who have both been getting Premiership match time with Valley this season.

“We can’t lose focus as we can’t afford any mistakes against Valley. They have a lot of national team players. We can learn a lot from playing them, but we don’t have any pressure. We can just tell the players to go out and enjoy it and that’s when we perform best,” said Liu who is satisfied with the Tigers’ position in the table: “We don’t feel any pressure to move up the table. We can continue to focus on our performance, as we’re confident we can keep ahead of the clubs below us. Our game isn’t yet at the level to consistently match Valley and Gai Wu so we need more experience, which is why this weekend is important.”

“Our target is the Grand Championships. We have set a goal to reach the final and beat whoever we face there,” Liu added.

With an undefeated run that is now in it’s third straight season, Liu can expect that opponent to be Valley, who also have their eyes on the same prize.

“We’re keeping an eye on the Grand Championships now and working on the expectation that we’ll play Gai Wu again, but this is rugby and anything could happen,” Valley Black coach Elliot said.

“Tigers are a good side. They know what they’re doing so it’s always a tough game. Our girls really want this win, but we’re also mindful that the schedule is going to get a lot tougher in the coming weeks. Our challenge now is to play some of our make-up games while managing player availability and fitness and, of course, not picking up too many injuries.”

“We need to get through this tough game on Saturday, and then we play Football Club next Thursday, which will be the first time we’ve met this season. We play them again the following week, giving us two matches against them in nine days, which can be tricky.”

Elliot has reshuffled his forward pack in the hunt for some new combinations for the remainder of the season and that could offer an opportunity for Tigers.

“It will be a baptism of fire for our forwards against the strong Tigers pack,” Elliot concluded.

In the other matches this weekend Gai Wu Falcons will face fourth-ranked HKFC Ice, while sixth-ranked Kowloon looks for its second win of the season against fifth-placed Causeway Bay Phoenix.

Additional reporting and photos: HK Rugby, Panadaman

Women’s Premiership Preview – 29 October, 2016

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This weekend’s Women’s Premiership features clashes between the league’s four remaining unbeaten sides. The title contenders will meet for the first time this season when USRC Tigers host Valley Black at Kings Park (3pm) and Gai Wu Falcons travel to Sports Road to play HKFC Ice in Saturday’s second tie between unbeaten sides at 6pm.

In the day’s third match, Kowloon will face off against SCAA Causeway Bay Phoenix at KGV, (6pm), with both sides having come close to their first wins of the season in recent weeks.

Valley Black have extended their historic two-year unbeaten streak into a third season, scoring 154 points in their three matches to date; third-ranked Tigers have posted a similarly impressive 126 points over their three victories this season.

The Tigers, who finished second in the league last year before being edged out of the Grand Championship stakes, have clear ambitions to figure in the top two this time around, but will be tested heavily on Saturday.

The scrutiny will go both ways as Valley are under no illusions as to what they can expect, with coach James Elliott calling Saturday’s match a “tough exam.” “None of the games are going to be easy, especially against Tigers, Football Club or, of course, Gai Wu. It is still just the start of the season so we need to be ready for anything.”

Despite facing their first real threat of the season, it’s business as usual according to Elliott.

“Our preparation has been nothing special, we have done some contact work and kept up on our fitness. We’re missing a couple of players, so there will be a bit of a reshuffle, particularly in the pack, but we have no major injuries.”

Spectators should be in for some exciting running rugby as two of the league’s premier backlines enter Saturday’s match. The Valley backline features a number of Hong Kong Sevens squad members and nearly the entire group was invited to trial for the National XVs earlier this week.

“Our backline performance will be hugely important. Tigers also have a great backline, and that is where the competition will be – I’m expecting an open, running game. It will be a fast game, which is fine for us, fine for both teams actually,” Elliott added.

Valley’s already imposing backline will be bolstered by the addition of sevens squad mainstay Colleen Tjosvold as she gets her first fifteens action of the season after being on international duty for Hong Kong early in the season. Tjosvold will join her sevens teammates Adrienne Garvey and Amelie Seure in the squad.

Valley captain Olivia Coady is excited about the challenge ahead; “We watched Tigers play last week [a 49-0 win over Kowloon]. They looked really strong. There has been some good competition already this season, but this weekend will be our biggest test so far.

“I’m also expecting a fast, running game, perhaps even a high scoring one. We don’t care about necessarily winning big, just winning,” Coady added.

Tigers coach Liu Kwok-leung agrees that the Premiership is about to get much more challenging for his team. “It’s the time to test the players in the field. Valley is a top team and I expect to learn a lot about our players, and about Valley, tomorrow. And they will learn a lot too. Every season when we play them, it exposes something, and I hope it will be positive for us tomorrow.”

National team players Natasha Olson-Thorne, Nam Ka-man and Lindsay Varty are all back from duty and are set to start for Tigers, and with only a couple of injuries to disturb his selection options, Liu expects a tight match saying, “It will be really close but we don’t feel too much pressure.”

Having earlier in the season expressed concern over his charges’ ability to maintain focus for the full 80 minutes, Liu believes there is enough in his team to give champions Valley a real fight.

“We’ve done a lot of work on our defence and our players have grown a lot since last season. We will focus on our defensive patterns, and if we can maintain them and convert defence into attack smoothly, it’ll be a really exciting game that brings out the best in both teams.”

Gai Wu will take their perfect record to meet fellow unbeatens HK Football Club. On current form they should have the upper hand, however, their hopes to add a league-leading fourth consecutive shutout could be in jeopardy against a battling Football Club outfit.

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Match Report: HKFC Ice 22-17 Kowloon Ladies @ King’s Park – 15 October, 2016

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HKFC Ice and Kowloon Ladies kicked off at 6PM at King’s Park. Ice gained early possession utilising their forwards with a ton of crash balls and strong running lines to push Kowloon back into their own half. Kowloon gained possession from a turnover ball and chose to kick it down the pitch to get out of their half. After a knock-on, the first scrum was evenly matched – with both teams having a strong forward pack. Ice held their own and worked the ball to their back line, but some poor handling saw the ball again knocked-on. Scrum to Kowloon close to their own try line. Ice won the scrum and fly-half Rose Hopewell-Fong grubber kicked the ball to the corner where a chasing Stephanie SSY Siu picked it up and dotted it down on the line. Rose Hopewell-Fong’s conversion was unsuccessful. 5-0 to HKFC Ice.

Both teams looked to utilise their strong forward packs, putting in big crash runners. The fiercely competitive nature of the game led to numerous handling errors, from both sides, throughout the first half. Ice began to dominate their scrum, which allowed number 8, Bobby Wilson, to get hold of the ball and gain several metres down the pitch. After popping the ball out to the supporting backline, outside centre Jamie Bourk slotted the ball down on the try line. Rose Hopewell-Fong’s conversion was successful! 12-0 to HKFC Ice.

Kowloon made a quick come back by breaking through HKFC Ice’s defensive line making it to the 22, but Rose Hopewell-Fong gave Ice a bit more breathing room putting boot to ball. Kowloon regained themselves, making another quick break with their speedy backline, however an outstanding tackle by Rose Hopewell-Fong forced Kowloon to knock on. The ball changed possession several times, with scrums happening all over the pitch. After 25 minutes of play, a scrum was spun by Kowloon, and their scrum-half, Chloe Mak Ho Yee, picked up the ball, ran down the blind side and scored a try for Kowloon. The conversion was flagged away. HKFC Ice 12 – 5 Kowloon.

Both teams were creating some beautiful running lines courtesy of their backs, and Kowloon kept HKFC Ice on their back foot and under pressure. Another handling error saw a scrum for HKFC Ice, a powerful forward push secured the scrum and scrum-half Sophie Short picked the ball up, went to the blind side and dived over the line, try! The conversion was unsuccessful. HKFC Ice 17 – 5 Kowloon Ladies at half time.

Denise Nga Chi Chan came off to give the infamous Royce Chan a chance to get on the pitch as Ice kicked-off the second half. Kowloon had a chance when one of their speedsters made a line-break, but she was taken down hard by Royce Chan on the half-way line and lost the ball. Kowloon later regained possession and sent the ball flying down the wing again with an 80m sprint but she was tackled out-of-bounds to give Ice a lineout on their own 22. Kowloon exerted tremendous pressure and Ice lost the lineout. Kowloon went straight for a try. The Ice defence held their ground and the ball was held up.

50 minutes in and Nina Pirie came off to give Cheryl Gourley a run out. Later HKFC Ice’s Angelina Cheung was substituted by Zuzanna Osinska. Kowloon fought back hard, broke the line with speed again and managed to score a second try. Conversion unsuccessful. HKFC Ice 17 – 10 Kowloon.

Royce Chan and Jaime Ho had to leave the game after an accidental clash of heads. Doris Chen and Rabbit Leung came on as replacements.

The intense match continued with both teams knowing the next score was crucial with Kowloon having most of the possession. A recurring injury forced Claire Hunter off, Apple Lau came on to replace her. Again a knock-on resulted in a scrum which Kowloon won, their fullback hit the line hard and scored the try. Conversion successful. HKFC Ice 17 – 17 Kowloon.

Tied with only 9 minutes left of the game both teams fought hard and well but it came down to teamwork with HKFC Ice pushing forward together, crash ball after crash ball then out wide to the wingers. Good defence from Kowloon saw HKFC pushed back, which resulted in a lineout. A clean lineout win and the forwards got the ball to the backs, Rose Hopewell-Fong dummied her defender and broke for the score. She was tackled just just short and off-loaded the ball off to #8 Bobby Wilson who barrelled herself towards the line. Ruck formed. Scrum-half Sophie Short secured the ball and down the backline it went to Emma Shields who drew the defenders in and passed a quick pop to Crystal Wray who used her strength and finally got the ball down on the try line in the far corner! Conversion unsuccessful by Rose Hopewell-Fong.

HKFC Ice 22 – 17 Kowloon. The ref blew the whistle to signal the end of the match.

HKFC Ice
Denise Nga Chi Chan, Shonagh Ryan, Megan Richardson, Angelina Cheung, Iris Chan, Claire Hunter, Nina Pirie, Bobby Wilson, Sophie Short, Rose Hopewell-Fong, Stephanie Siu, Jaime Ho, Jamie Bourk, Crystal Wray, Emma Shields.
Substitutes: Cheryl Gourley, Doris Chen, Zuzanna Onsinska, Royce Chan, Apple Lau, Helen Lee, Maggie Wong, Rabbit Leung
Tries: Stephanie Siu, Jamie Bourk, Sophie Short, Crystal Wray
Conversions: Rose Hopewell-Fong x 1

Photo: Phoebe Leung

KowloonFest @ Kings Park – 25 March, 2015 – Women

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5 women’s rugby teams competed at the 2015 KowloonFest. The Kowloon RFC, Shenzhen Dragons, Ho Bit Ruckers, Shanghai Jenny Crabs, Laos Lady Nagas all played each other in a mini-league to decide the Cup and Plate pairings.
Click on any photo to see the full gallery of images

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http://bcmagazine.smugmug.com/Bcene-photos/2015/KowloonFest-2015-Kings-Park/48214591_X3K3mn#!i=3952011816&k=K3VVDvf

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KowloonFest @ Kings Park – 25 March, 2015

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24 men’s and 5 women’s teams from across the globe competed in the 14th KowloonFest @ King’s Park.

Way too many images to post, including lots of match action, team shots and individual photos. Click on any image to see the full set

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