The Aliens successfully defended their Hong Kong 10s crown overcoming a resilient ULR Samurai 10-0 in a nervy final. It was their ninth overall title for the side, which enjoys a long standing history at the tournament. They key to the Aliens’ victory was a rock solid defence which only conceded two tries over the course of the two days at the Hong Kong Football Club.
Robin Heymann, Hong Kong
The Aliens successfully defended their Hong Kong Tens crown overcoming a resilient ULR Samurai 10-0 in a nervy final. It was their ninth overall title for the side, who enjoy a long standing history at the tournament.
They key to the Aliens’ victory was a rock solid defence which only conceded two tries over the course of the two days at the Hong Kong Football Club.
With both Aliens looking to continue their run and Samurai searching for their maiden win in Hong Kong the two teams were understandably nervous in the day’s major showpiece.
The two standout fly-halfs of the competition, Gareth Anscombe (Aliens) and James Wilson (Samurai), were both content to look for territory and position early on.
The Aliens stifled a physical Samurai in large phases of the first twelve minutes and turned defence into attack when Adrian Donald crashed over from a quickly taken penalty, for a 5-0 lead.
Again the Aliens controlled the tempo of play in the second period and when Nathan Hohia, on loan from the Penguins, cut a scything line off a scissors, the Aliens looked good for their 10-0 lead.
Samurai, playing in honour of former coach Colin Hillman, tried their upmost to claw their way back but when a forward pass halted a promising move, the game was up.
Aliens and Samurai graft through
In the semi-finals Simon Munroe were on song for the Aliens against perennial 10s bridesmaids, the Penguins.
Despite some individual brilliance from Orisi Sareki and sniping runs from the diminutive Luke Hamilton the champions were fairly comfortable in the 17-14 win, with Gareth Anscombe’s penalty making the difference.
Samurai ended the hopes of NZ legends in the second semi-final with Josh Hall scoring in the 10-0 win.
The standard of this year’s tournament proved exceptional, illustrated in four nervy quarter-finals.
Aliens put were made to work in their last-eight clash, eventually running away with a 19-0 win over the Titans.
Penguins, stopped the hugely impressive Borneo Eagles in their tracks with a gritty 7-6 win. Samurai outlasted the KIR Club Pyrenees 17-12 whilst last year’s runners-up NZ Legends overcome the ACU 17-0 in the Trans-Tasman clash.
Aliens enjoy good balance
“There aren’t enough words or nothing that can describe how I’m feeling at the moment. I’ve had many good moments here but these were a young bunch of kids that nobody knew anything about,” said coach Willie Los’e.
“We have a simple philosophy and that is ‘balance in life’. We don’t just come here to play rugby, the guys go to the schools and they do some coaching there and we go out and enjoy each other’s company.”
The Aliens are a breeding ground for talent with current New Zealand Sevens stars Tomasi Cama and Kurt Baker products, and Los’e feels the likes of Simon Monroe and Phillip Tuigamala have the pedigree to play at the higher level too.
Samurai were gracious in defeat but admitted they had contributed to their downfall in the final.
“We gave them a bit too much space in the first half and our defence wasn’t coming up as it should have to take their space away and a couple of penalties didn’t help took the pressure off them, said Samurai coach Blair Larsen.
“From the first game the guys have come a long way. We played our final in the semi-final in all honesty.”
The Borneo Eagles took some solace in winning the Plate with a comprehensive 36-0 win over ACI. The Hong Kong Baas-Baas won local bragging rights clinching the Bowl against a Hong Kong Chairman Select with the Irish Vikings beating the Old Boys 26-5.
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