The South China Tigers have claimed their first Global Rapid Rugby win, taking the spoils on a sodden Aberdeen Sports Ground against the Asia Pacific Dragons on Sunday afternoon in Hong Kong.
The home side had all the early running, scoring four tries to one in the opening half before a spirited comeback from the Asia Pacific Dragons late in the second half. The action continued after the final siren when a last-ditch effort by the Dragons almost resulted in a spectacular Power Try but it was disallowed by the TMO for a knock-on.
After torrential rain turned the field into a lake only a day earlier (70mm fell in less than an hour), both sides had found their feet early, however, it was the Tigers that mastered the conditions best and gained an early ascendancy.
The home team had the first points on the board thanks to speedy fullback Nathan De Thierry after the Tigers were gifted strong field position following an errant kick by the Dragons which rolled out over the dead ball line.
They doubled their score 10 minutes later when Lewis Warner broke through the Dragons defence and was able to slide across the try line despite some desperate defending by Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Two tries then became three for the Tigers when Sami Nagavesi showed outstanding dexterity to snatch a bouncing ball from under the nose of everyone, leaving the Dragons in real danger of a being on the end of a blowout scoreline going into half time.
Boasting plenty of talent and experience the Dragons made great use of their big forward pack to create a solid rolling maul and push the Tigers defence backwards before Latu Talakai registered a morale-boosting try.
The scoring wasn’t done however, the Tigers adding their fourth try through Luke Van Der Smit immediately after the restart to wrestle back the momentum as an entertaining first half came to an end.
Despite a heavy pitch and end to end action taking its toll on the players in the opening half there was plenty of intent from both sides in the second stanza, however scoring dried up. A penalty goal to the Tigers was the only points scored for 30 minutes before the Dragons sprang to life and scored two tries in quick succession.
With less than five minutes to go, an intuitive move from the Dragons’ Kali Hala saw him seize a prime opportunity, intercepting the ball just metres from the try line to bolster the visitors confidence and narrow the deficit.
The Singaporean based side weren’t done yet as Nili Latu added to an already impressive performance with a clever chip ahead giving Naibuka Rokua a chance to run on and score a great try.
Trailing by 10 points and with time expired, the Dragons couldn’t win but wanted to get as close as possible with one last gasp effort. Going the length of the field, and with the Power Try active, they almost ended the game in spectacular style. Latu again instrumental, chipping forward for Mitchell Scott who deftly kicked the ball off the deck to his own advantage and dived over for the try. Scott and his team-mates were celebrating a brilliant end to the match only to have the TMO rule the winger had knocked on as he crossed the try line.
Rapid Rugby action continues in Asia next week when the Tigers and Dragons meet again for a re-match match in Singapore on Sunday, 28 April 2019.
Starting XV: 1.Benjamin HIGGINS, 2.Alexander POST, 3.Tau KOLOMATANGI, 4.Fin FIELD, 5.Craig LODGE, 6.James SAWYER, 7.Josh DOWSING, 8.Luke VAN DER SMIT, 9.Liam SLATEM, 10.Glyn HUGHES, 11.Tom VARNDELL, 12.Matthew ROSSLEE, 13.Lewis WARNER, 14.Samisoni NASAGAVESI, 15.Nathan DE THIERRY,
Reserves: 16.Mitch ANDREWS, 17.Adam FULLGRABE, 18.Grant KEMP, 19.Kyle SULLIVAN, 20.James CUNNINGHAM, 21.Jamie LAUDER, 22.Tom HILL, 23.MA Chong
Starting XV: 1.Latu TALAKAI, 2.Michael LEA, 3.Ropate RINAKAMA, 4.Louis CONRADIE, 5.Joketani KOROI, 6.Naulia DAWAI, 7.Fotu LOKOTUI, 8.Nili LATU, 9.Rowan GOUWS, 10.Kali HALA, 11.Mitchell SCOTT, 12.Latiume FOSITA, 13.Stacy ILLI, 14.Sireli BOBO, 15.Asaeli TIKOIROTUMA,
Reserves: 16.Sekonaia POLE, 17.Taniela KOROI, 18.Haamea AHIO, 19.Mike McKEE, 20.Declan MARTENS, 21.Leon FUKOFUKA, 22.Naibuka ROKUA, 23.Junior LALOIFI
Referee: Graham COOPER, AR1: Matthew RODDEN, AR2: Tim BAKER, TMO: Mark JACKSON
|2:01||N.De Thierry (SCT)||Try||South China Tigers by 5||[5 – 0]|
|3:08||G.Hughes (SCT)||Conversion||South China Tigers by 7||[7 – 0]|
|12:03||L.Warner (SCT)||Try||South China Tigers by 12||[12 – 0]|
|13:16||G.Hughes (SCT)||Conversion||South China Tigers by 14||[14 – 0]|
|15:39||S.Nasagavesi (SCT)||Try||South China Tigers by 19||[19 – 0]|
|16:11||G.Hughes (SCT)||Conversion||South China Tigers by 21||[21 – 0]|
|27:15||L.Talakai (APD)||Try||South China Tigers by 16||[21 – 5]|
|28:03||K.Hala (APD)||Conversion||South China Tigers by 14||[21 -7]|
|29:10||L.VD Smit (SCT)||Try||South China Tigers by 19||[26 – 7]|
|12:22||G.Hughes (SCT)||Penalty Goal||South China Tigers by 22||[29 – 7]|
|30:39||K.Hala (APD)||Try||South China Tigers by 17||[29 – 12]|
|31:18||K.Hala (APD)||Conversion||South China Tigers by 15||[29 – 14]|
|35:05||N.Rokua (APD)||Try||South China Tigers by 10||[29 – 19]|