Women’s Rugby Fixtures – 19-20 November, 2016

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Ladies Day at King’s Park

womens-rugby-8-oct-2016It’s Ladies Day at King’s Park with 10 women’s league rugby matches taking place, the highlight being the first clash of the season between Premiership Champions Valley Black and the team they’ve faced in the last three Grand Finals Gai Wu Falcons – that match kicks off at 4:30pm. But the action, spread across two pitches starts at 1:30pm with the last kick-off at 7:30pm.

If there’s a negative to Ladies Day, it’s that the HKRU has done nothing to promote it. No advertising, not even a banner on Facebook or on their website. In marked contrast to men’s tournament currently taking place. Which then raises the very pertinent question when will there be a Women’s Cup of Nations?

Last season’s Grand Final was a thrilling affair with Valley scoring in the dying seconds to claim a 12-10 win. Both sides enter this match in fine form with perfect records and squads laden with Hong Kong internationals. Gai Wu (seven forwards, six backs) and Valley (four forwards, two backs) account for 19 of the 31 players in the current Hong Kong training squad preparing for upcoming matches against Kazakhstan and the Womens’ Rugby World Cup qualifiers here in December.

The Gai Wu Falcons are coming off a tough 12-0 win over Tigers last weekend while Valley Black were inactive after their match with HKFC Ice was postponed. With the unexpected break in the action, Valley coach James Elliot ensured that his team was on hand to watch Gai Wu in action as added preparation and motivation for tomorrow’s tie.

Elliot was confident ahead of the match saying, “It’s a crunch game for sure. Both teams have a lot of balance with good backs and good forwards. A lot of the Valley and Gai Wu girls play and train together for Hong Kong, so they know exactly how each other play. I think it will come down to who wants it more.”

Valley will be without winger Laurel Chor who is unavailable due to work commitments, so Elliot has called upon a few of his side’s younger players, Kelsie Bouttle and Clare Coey, to back up the team with Coey covering for Chor out wide.

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Elliot expects that it will all come down to defence on the day. “The 16.30 start suits both sides. Both teams have speed and that gets more opportunity in an afternoon game so I expect some good running rugby, and some good contact too. We’ve got some muscle up front, and Gai Wu have ability there too. They are fit all over the park, so our defence has to be rock solid,” Eliott added.

“The break last week gave our Hong Kong players a bit of time to recover, especially for those that had trained with Hong Kong the day before, so I’m not worried about missing that game last week in terms of how sharp we will be. Hopefully we can spring a few surprises on Saturday,” said Elliot.

Gai Wu have one their most dangerous players back with the return of Aggie Poon Pak-yan from injury. Hong Kong rugby fans are well aware of Poon’s class and Elliot is no different. “We’re pleased that Aggie Poon will be out there. She is one of Hong Kong’s top players so you always want to see them healthy and on the pitch. With her in the side, we know we are playing their best team which fires us up,” said Elliot.

Valley enter the match with confidence but are also well aware of where they are in the season and their wider objectives. “We’re looking forward to the game. Personally, I expect to win but it’s still early in the Premiership. We are still trying new things and looking to be a bit more creative, but we’re ready to grind out a win in the Valley fashion if we have to; but it’s a nice expansive pitch and I expect a good open game.”

Elliot is also comfortable with his side wearing the mantle of favourites. “It’s not a burden. We just have to back up our reputation on Saturday,” Elliot added.

Gai Wu Falcons coach Lai Yiu-pang wouldn’t be drawn on the revenge angle, saying, “We don’t see it that way. We take every game and opponent as they come and treat each one with the same seriousness.

“Having said that, we know that Valley are one of the strongest teams in the competition. This match is hugely important to us because our goal is the league crown and Grand Championship. Valley scouted our games over the last two weeks, so I think they are under more pressure than us, as they want to maintain their unbeaten streak,” added Lai who commented that a complete game will be necessary on Saturday.

“It will start with our defence. We were really good defensively last week against Tigers and if we can maintain that then I think we can put pressure on them. We have to secure the breakdown first and foremost, and then try to build attacking momentum from there.

“We are expecting a physical game because they have some strong bodies and a few very experienced individuals. Our backline will need to put in an improved performance on attack. They need more confidence given that most of them are sevens players and need time to adapt to the fifteens play a bit.”

Lai will be able to call upon Poon for a second time this season after her debut last weekend. “Aggie is fit and ready for Saturday,” said Lai, who will still miss some of his key cogs up front with Lee Ka Suen given a rest due to a recent illness and the fact that she has been training with the Hong Kong squad this week.

“Lee was ill last week and we are concerned with her conditioning. It’s safer to give her a rest to help her recover, but luckily our front row has stayed healthy. They will have to have another key performance this weekend. We have promoted a few forwards from the second team to give us more options and bench depth and it is one of our goals for the season to get them more experience,” Lai concluded.

hkrugby-5-novWhile all eyes will be on the top-of-the-table clash, in the other Premiership action the match between Tigers and HKFC will also impact the league standings with both sides entering the game level on 15 points, although HKFC have a game in hand on Tigers. Tigers’ two losses have come against Valley and Gai Wu in back-to-back weeks with HKFC yet to face Valley this season. City Sparkle will look to take capitalize on its game against Causeway Bay Phoenix – just one spot ahead of them on the league table – as they hunt for their first win in their debut Premiership season.

With all of the league matches this weekend taking place at Kings Park, Saturday will offer an opportunity for supporters to catch up with the action in the National Leagues 1 and 2. Highlight National League matches see Tai Po Dragons take on Tigers in what is expected to be a very tight encounter. Tai Po, who dropped from the Premiership this season, are at the top of the NL1 table with a perfect four-win, no-loss record. Tigers are in fourth place with a game in hand on Tai Po. Seventh-ranked HKCC will look to claim their first win of the season against fellow foot-of-the-table side Revolution SRC.

The National League 2 match between Kowloon and City’s second teams will offer a compelling preview of some emerging Women’s players as both teams feature a large number of players from the most recent Hong Kong Rugby Union Summer Rugby course.

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Additional reporting, images: HKRU

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Women’s Rugby Fixtures – 12 November, 2016

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Falcons beat Tigers in Women’s Premisership

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USRC Tigers ran unbeaten Gai Wu Falcons close at So Kon Po, losing a tight encounter, 12-0. In the weekend’s other Women’s Premiership match Kowloon beat City Sparkle 21-0. The match between Valley Black and HKFC Ice was postponed. For the National league 1 & 2 results click here.

The tight contest between last year’s second and third places finishers saw the Tigers trail 5-0 at the break despite Falcons exerting a strong territorial advantage in the first forty minutes.

“We played superb rugby in the first half,” said Falcons coach Lai Yiu-pang. “We kept Tigers under a lot of pressure and penned them back in their half for most of the opening period. We knew that the game was going to be a physical test and we matched up with them well. I think they only managed to get the ball in our half one or two times in the first half.”

Lai credited his forward pack, laden with Hong Kong fifteens and sevens stars, as the difference makers this afternoon, saying, “Our forwards did really well in both attack and defence. We have a lot of sevens players in the backline who are just coming off their international season and I think they need to develop their fifteens-sense a bit more as we made a lot of errors in the backline today.”

The Falcons had their full compliment of 13 national squad representatives available including Aggie Poon Pak-yan who played for 65 minutes in her first fifteens game of the season, after being injured in the Asian sevens series.

Despite the loss, Tigers coach Liu Kwok-leung was proud of his team’s efforts: “Compared to our game against Valley [a 32-3 loss] last weekend we played much better today. The girls took the lessons from last week to heart and showed a big improvement.”

Ahead of the game, Liu had warned his side of the importance of closing down Gai Wu’s speed and attack in open play. That comment proved true as Gai Wu pulled away for good in the second half after capitalising on a rare defensive miscue by Tigers, when a botched clearance kick failed to make touch and was returned by Falcon’s speedy wing Chong Ka-yan for a try that put the game out of reach for Tigers.

Liu also bemoaned his side’s inability to convert their chances saying, “We had a lot of possession but we couldn’t take our opportunities to score. The game was really close especially in the first half with both teams’ defences playing very well and forcing a lot of errors.

Our defensive effort was top notch. We really shut them down in the first half and our line speed and communication on defence was really good, but we just lacked some composure on attack.”

“We are looking forward to the second round of matches and will analyse our early performance with the players, but there is a lot we can build off from this match. I think we may need to refine some of our patterns and structures when we play against the top teams like Valley and Falcons, but it is coming together well,” Liu added.

The Falcons’ win brought its hot streak to five matches, during which they have only conceded a single unconverted try. Next up they taken on Valley Black for what promises to be the match of the season so far next week. While the Tigers now prepare to take on Football Club.

Kowloon collected its first win of the season, 21-0 over Premiership debutants City, who were hunting for their first win in Hong Kong Women’s Rugby’s top flight.

Additional reporting and image: HKrugby

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Women’s Rugby Results – 5 November, 2016

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Premiership

USRC Tigers 0-12 Gai Wu Falcons
@ So Kon Po, Kick-off: 16:30

Kowloon 21-0 City Sparkle
@ KG V, Kick-off: 18:00

Valley Black v HKFC Ice – Postponed
@ HK Football Club, Kick-off: 18:00

Women's Premiership - 5 November, 2016
National League 1

Valley Red 0-22 Tai Po Dragons
@ King’s Park, Kick-off: 18:00

HK Scottish v Revolution SRC
@ Shek Kip Mei, Kick-off: 18:00

USRC Tigers 0-26 Gai Wu Fawkes
@ So Kon Po, Kick-off: 18:00

Women's National League 1 - 5 November, 2016

National League 2

Kowloon 7-34 CWB Lammergeier
@ KG V, Kick-off: 16:30

Gai Wu Hawks 17-20 Tai Po Dragons
@ Tai Hung Tang, Kick-off: 16:30

HKFC Fire 39-0 University Pirates
@ Sandy Bay, Kick-off: 16:30

Police Sirens 46-0 City
@ Police Boundary Street, Kick-off: 18:00

Women's National League 2 - 5 November, 2016

Image: HKrugby

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Women’s Rugby Fixtures – 5 November, 2016

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Women’s Rugby Results – 29 October, 2016

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Premiership

USRC Tigers 3-32 Valley Black
@ King’s Park, Kick-off: 15:00

Gai Wu Falcons 65-5 HKFC Ice
@ HK Football Club, Kick-off: 18:00

Kowloon 0-12 CWB Phoenix
@ KG V, Kick-off: 18:00

Womens rugby tables - 29 October, 2016

National League 1

Revolution SRC 10-15 Gai Wu Fawkes
@ KG V, Kick-off: 16:30

HKCC 10-81 Tai Po Dragons
@ Tai Hung Tang, Kick-off: 16:30

USRC Tigers 10-12 HK Scottish Kukris
@ King’s Park, Kick-off: 18:00

Womens rugby tables - 29 October, 2016

National League 2

Uni-Pirates 5-27  Kowloon
@ KG V, Kick-off: 15:00

City 0-22 Tin Shui Wai
@ Tin Shui Wai, Kick-off: 15:00

Gai Wu Hawks 12-20 CWB Lammergeier
@ Shek Kip Mei, Kick-off: 16:30

HKFC Fire 0-19 Police Sirens
@ Police Boundary Street, Kick-off: 18:00

Womens rugby tables - 29 October, 2016

Photo: HKRU

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Women’s Rugby Fixtures – 29 October, 2016

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