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25th March 2015

Old foes BGC Asia Pacific Dragons and Tradition YCAC set course for the Cup after day one of GFI HKFC Tens

The big guns of 10-man rugby have moved through the first day’s pool games at the GFI HKFC Tens, with the delicious prospect of a rematch against two old foes in the Bill Burgess Cup tomorrow evening.

The BGC Asia Pacific Dragons (seeded 1) and Tradition YCAC (2) racked up big scores yesterday and played a power game when required yesterday. The BGC APD face French Pyrenees, with Tradition versus Irish Vikings in the other half of the draw in tomorrow’s Cup Quarter Finals.

There were few surprises but plenty of enterprising, running rugby in the opening pool games of day one of the GFI HKFC Tens. Teams played end-to-end rugby and displayed a willingness to spin the ball wide from the kick-off.

Louie Hazlehurst for the A Trade Overseas Old Boys was yesterday’s top try-scorer with seven, including six against Shandong late in the day. Dragon’s fullback Waisea Nacuqu was in second with six. A confident Nacuqu said he was excited to be playing with the Dragons but had his eyes on a bigger prize.

“I’m going to do my best to be the top try scorer in this tournament,” he said ahead of his final pool game at Sports Road last night.

And he was ready to build a case for higher honours at the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend. “If the coach gives me a call for this weekend, I’ll be ready,” he said.

Nacuqu was part of the wider Fijian Sevens training group for the Asian legs of the Sevens World Series in Tokyo and Hong Kong before missing the cut for the final touring squad.

For Tradition YCAC, Rocky Khan showed his class all day, steering them around the park and doing the little things right. Tradition beat Shandong 61-0, Old Boys 43-5, and French Pyrenees 15-0 in their pool games. The win against Old Boys would have been particularly pleasing for coach Simon Ryan with a seven players each taking a five-pointer from a competitive outfit.

Tradition sent an early message with a dominant display, putting eight tries across the whitewash in an early afternoon run against Shandong. The win was built on swarming defence and a well-marshalled directed offence, led by Kane Hancy and Khan.

There were mixed results for the highly regarded Penguin International (4), with two wins and a loss putting them into a difficult third Cup Quarter Final against Samurai International (3). The loss, in the final game of day one, against the French Development Team means they face the toughest road home of the top four seeds.

Penguins push for a first win in nine appearances at Hong Kong could yet be derailed by injury. Todd Clever, 32, a United States legend with 63 Test caps, was carried off in the Pool D game against UBB GaveKal. He landed awkwardly in a race for a loose ball and appeared to hurt an ankle, said Team Manager Craig Brown.

Earlier in the day, Ed Fidow took four tries on the wing for Penguins in their clash against the Devils Advocate Silver Dragons from Shanghai. The Auckland speedster outshone the likes of Test-capped champion Rico Gear.

The other top-four seeds, Samurai, started slowly yesterday. With a big turnover of players from last year, Samurai’s combinations seem yet to click, yet they fought hard to wins against Natixis HKFC, 31-0; Hexagon Stockholm Exiles, 12-0; and Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, 19-5.

While the first few games may have highlighted the difference between the professionals and the amateurs, the Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles showed all the class and upset more than a few pundits with a pair of wins yesterday to leave them as the sole Hong Kong representatives in the Cup tomorrow.

The Exiles ran out 10-7 winners over the Hexagon Stockholm Exiles in a pulsating Pool C game first up and, in a game that went to the final play, beat Natixis Hong Kong Football Club 15-12.

“The two Scotland Sevens boys, Jamie Farndale and Gavin Lowe, have done fantastically well, and former Scotland flyhalf Dan Parks has just been pulling the strings at 10. It’s fantastic,” said player/manager Bryan Rennie.

“It all seems to be going to plan at the moment, although we just squeezed through in the last game by three points, so we’re quietly confident but we know we still have some really tough games coming up.”

In the Bowl competition, the three teams most likely to contest for the silverware appear to be the Stockholm Exiles, Overseas Old Boys and Allied World Forces Exiles. All three looked good at times today and will be hoping for a more consistent showing tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s first game sees the GFI East Africans (16) face Shandong (15) in a Bowl Quarter Final at 10.30am.

Sixteen teams will compete in four round-robin pools on Day One of the GFI HKFC Tens before progressing into the Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield competitions on Day Two.  As well as attracting past and present stars of rugby, fans will also be able to catch a glimpse of future greats with many young up-and-coming players now using the GFI HKFC Tens as a high-quality tournament to showcase their rugby skills.

For the first time, every match of the GFI HKFC Tens will be streamed live on the internet.  Fans from across the world can long onto YouTube to watch the world’s best tens tournament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHmgm5s8Jow.

GFI Group return for their 10th year as title sponsor of the GFI HKFC Tens and will be joined by fellow sponsors, Allied World, DHL, Swire Properties, Q-Net, Natixis and Fosters.

Since GFI came on board as title sponsor, the tournament has attracted rugby legends Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima (2008), Bobby Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Mils Muliaina (2012) Justin Marshall (2011 and 2012), and last year’s wining captain, George Smith.

Now in its 30th year, the GFI HKFC Tens is sanctioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and is held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the world-famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

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