Sandy Bay Squeak Past Kowloon to Finish Premiership on a High
By Grant Beuzeval
Gritty bonus point victory ensures that momentum is maintained for next weeks semi-final.
Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on their 2018/19 premiership regular season with yet another close one against Kerry Hotel Kowloon.
This 15th and final round fixture would have no bearing on the final standings, with Sandy Bay locked in for 4th spot and Kowloon anchored to the bottom of the league following a wretched season, fraught with injuries.
It’s almost hard to believe that just five matches ago, the Bay were dead last on the table and looking down the barrel of a disappointing season. But then something happened – the wins started coming, the smiles returned and the tries and bonus points started flowing like hot volcanic lava over a disused shopping mall, destined for demolition.
Five consecutive bonus-point victories over USRC Tigers, HK Scottish (twice), Valley and Kowloon have propelled the Bay up into a well-earned semi-final berth on 2nd March against HKFC. The 25 competition points has seen them blitz past Kowloon and USRC Tigers to finish almost within reaching distance of Valley in 4th place.
Head coach Brett Wilkinson, skipper Gair Currie and their band of merry men are by no means putting the delicious Pilsner Urquell on ice . The really hard work has just begun and on the Saturday just passed, they were made to work as hard as ever to bludgeon out a 29-28 win over a Kowloon side that always seemed to save their best for the Bay.
First half meat pies to Ash Hyde, Moses Bailey and Sebastian Brien took Sandy Bay to a 19-14 score-line at halftime and a second try to rampant prop Ash Hyde saw the “home” team stretch the lead to 26-14 early in the second half. Soon after, Bay flanker Moses Bailey was harshly red-carded for collecting an oke a little high and could only watch on in horror as Kowloon fought back grittily with two tries and closed the score to 29-28 with 5 minutes remaining. Flyhalf Nik Cumming stripped Kowloon players of the ball twice in tackle situations to take some pressure of his team but also found himself on the naughty chair after getting muddled up while going for the stripper trifecta.
In January, Loon had won the close one with an injury time clutch drop goal, but this time Sandy Bay held on for the win and a terrific close to the Saxo Premiership.
Wilkinson had the luxury of resting a few battered players and their return will bolster his teams chances. HKFC may have the league title but Sandy Bay are not lacking the hunger, ability or motivation to spoil the party at Sports Road on Saturday 2nd March.