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Eyes on Kowloon as RugbyPass.com HKRU Men’s Premiership Continues to Fizz

Round 11

Catch the game of the week between Tigers and Scottish live from 4:30pm HKT on Saturday the 7th of January.

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Kowloon’s giant-killing run prior to Christmas is at risk of being in vain as far as the league championship is concerned if they can’t take the points against Valley in round 11 of the RugbyPass.com Men’s Premiership this weekend.

The match is just one of a bumper line-up of games to get the competition rolling again after the break, with the USRC Borrelli Walsh Tigers hosting Bloomberg HK Scottish at King’s Park and Natixis HKFC welcoming Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC to Football Club, with both encounters kicking off at 4.30pm.

Kowloon travel to Happy Valley on Saturday for a 3pm start 13 points behind the reigning grand champions and, with only four rounds remaining after this week, a loss will leave them out of the race for top spot.

A win, however, would have James Scaysbrook’s third-placed side right in the hunt for a top-two position and the coach is hoping his side can pick up where it left off before Christmas.

“It’s a bit strange having so long off mid-season but I can’t wait to get back into it,” he said.

“It’s a good opportunity to close the gap on the top two but really we just want to get back the momentum we had before the break.”

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Kowloon go into the clash knowing they can match Valley after trumping the competition pacesetters last time around and Scaysbrook are not expecting any surprises.

“The obvious thing against Valley is the set piece, we are going to have to scrummage really well and our line-out is going to have to function well,” he said.

“Off the back of those two things we were able to go well against them last time. On top of that, hopefully we can keep up the other parts of the contact area work we have been doing.”

While Valley have not been at their brilliant best this season, the side’s consistency and ability to find a way to win sees them again clear on top and a win this weekend will leave them in the box seat to secure a second league championship in a row.

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Scottish are their closest threat and will be hoping to get back on track against Tigers after dropping their past two matches.

Tigers found some form with an impressive win over HKCC in their last outing and forwards coach and back-rower Sam Hocking knows now is the time to start getting things right.

“We’re rolling into the business end of the season so we are looking to create a little bit of form going into the play-offs and carry on playing how we want to play rather than letting the opposition dictate to us,” he said.

Scottish were the form side of the competition for a large part of the opening 10 rounds and Hocking knows they have class all over the park.

“The two new boys that they brought in through the Chiefs exchange (Josh Dowsing and Lars Morrice), they have bulked up their pack and added a different dimension,” he said.

“They are very effective in what they do and they have a strong kicking game. We want to play an attacking style of rugby, we want to keep the ball in hand and look to move the opposition around.”

For Scottish, who currently sit six points behind Valley, a win will keep them right in the hunt for the league championship.

HKFC and HKCC lock horns for the first time since round five back in October as the teams await a ruling on whether their last clash – which HKCC forfeited due to a lack of front-rowers – will be replayed.

HKFC found some form with consecutive wins before the break and are well placed to make a run for a finish in the top half of the ladder.

“We drew against Cricket Club last time and we are pretty evenly matched so it should be a good game, it will be very interesting,” coach Phil Bailey said.

“They have got a very good forward pack, I think both teams have got a few injuries but that is part and parcel for this time of year.”

One player returning from injury for Football Club is flanker Dan Falvey, who will be crucial against the grunt of Cricket Club.

Bailey is hoping to see more of what his side produced in the last two games before Christmas.

“We started to string things together well, we played some smart footy and we took the points when they were on offer and we applied pressure defensively,” he said.

“That’s what we are looking for this week again and when there is an opportunity to play fast, play fast.”

Cricket Club find themselves in the rare position of being at risk of dropping to last in the table after losing to bottom-placed Tigers before the break and will be equally keen to put in a good performance.

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Abe 1 hours ago
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Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 5 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

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