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Hong Kong Premiership round nine: Valley edge Scottish in thriller

By RugbyPass

Societe Generale Valley again showed why they are the five-time reigning grand champions in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership on Saturday, defeating Bloomberg HK Scottish 41-39 in a thriller.

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Elsewhere, Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC’s troubles worsened with an 87-17 hammering at the hands of Natixis HKFC, while Kowloon downed the in-form Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 27-22.

Valley refused to lie down at Shek Kip Mei despite falling behind in the dying stages and it was Ben Rimene who was the hero, with the fly half slotting a drop goal to win the match after his side put together a phenomenal string of phases.

“It was fantastic ball retention, I’d like for that to be our stock standard during games,” Valley coach Andrew Kelly said.

Valley opened the scoring in the ninth minute, with hooker Dayne Jans cashing in after a strong line-out drive. Fly half Ben Rimene’s extras gave Valley a 7-0 lead, however the hosts were quick in response, with Gregor McNeish banging over a penalty to open their account.

Valley’s cause was not helped by a yellow card to winger Ruan Duplooy and Scottish capitalised on their advantage, with skipper Kane Boucaut scoring on 15 minutes for an 8-7 advantage.

The tries came freely for the next 15 minutes, with Thomas Lamboley dotting down to put Valley in front before Shea Turnerand Kyle Sullivan found the line for Scottish to put them in front 22-14. The scoring halted in the lead up to the break and remained 22-14 in favour of Scottish at half-time.

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Valley’s forwards made a strong statement early in the second half, pressuring Scottish on their line.The sustained effort paid off as prop Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi put his name on the score sheet, barging over from close range to draw his side back within a point after Rimene’s third conversion.

McNeish replied with a penalty but it was again Rimene in the thick of the action, with the Hong Kong veteran scoring his side’s second try in the opening ten minutes of the half. He was again on target from the tee to increase his points total for the match to 13 and hand his side a 28-25 lead.

Soon after, Scottish prop Jack Parfitt found himself in the bin after infringing in the scrum and all of sudden the hosts were well and truly up against it heading into the final quarter. It quickly got worse, with second rower Alessandro Nardoni also yellow carded and Valley extending their lead through a try to Carl Marks.

Scottish were not done though and showed the value of stringing some phases together, piercing the Valley defence to allow Boucaut to cross after some slick passing. The ever-reliable McNeish slotted the conversion to bring his side within a point with 15 minutes to play.

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The tries kept flowing right to the end, with Valley replacement Roger Ng touching down in the corner before Conor Hartley burst free to score for Scottish.

The conversion attempts looked to have proved critical, with Rimene missing for Valley and Sam Vaevae on target for Scottish to give the hosts a one point lead with only minutes to play. But Rimene had the last laugh, slotting the winning drop goal after Valley edged forward relentlessly with phase after phase of desperate rugby.

“Everyone is elated now but we were definitely poor in areas. We conceded a try when they were down to 13 men, things like that. These are pressure points that you have to make the most of, and to let in a try then is just not on; but in saying that, the spirit to win in the last minute was brilliant, so I’m delighted.”

For Scottish coach Craig Hammond, it was a case of so close yet so far: “It’s frustrating, there’s no consistency. We fought our way back into the game and I’d hate to think how many phases we defended right at the end.I’m sure if you were watching at home it was a pretty good game, but I thought we could have taken the five points and climbed back up the ladder.”

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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