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4th April 2018

Penguins captain Kiri Kiri calls Scotland’s Waterboys “dark horse”

Pyrenees of France also emerge as potential Cup contenders at GFI HKFC 10s after drawing with three-time finalists Samurai in final Pool D match

Hong Kong; April 4, 2018: Penguins captain Antonio Kiri Kiri described Scotland’s Projecx Waterboys as a “dark horse” after the two teams played out a thrilling 12-12 draw in the Pool B finale at the 33rd GFI HKFC 10s, which concludes at Hong Kong Football Club on Thursday.

Both teams won their first two matches, but the second-seeded Penguins, champions in 2013 and 2016, topped the group on most tries scored.

Fourth seeds Samurai International also only topped their group on tries scored after playing out a thrilling 17-17 draw with fifth seeds Kir Club Pyrenees, while top seeds UBB Gavekal – who won the Cup for the first time last year – and third seeds Tradition YCAC topped the other pools.

Kiri Kiri, 26, was co-captain of the Penguins side that beat Samurai in the 2016 final and said the team might benefit from their last pool match, which followed wins over Irish Vikings (52-0) and Natixis HKFC (34-14).

“We got ahead early against the Waterboys, but we couldn’t hold them off. They’re a pretty good side and capitalised on a couple of opportunities and gave us a bit of a fight there. We’re pretty happy to take the draw in the end – we looked like losing for a second,” said the former All Blacks Sevens forward who made his Super Rugby debut this year for the Blues.

“We can take some positives from it. We saw a few things we haven’t seen yet as a team, on attack and defence. We have an opportunity to work on those, so when they come again tomorrow, we’ll be ready for them.

“I think Waterboys could be a real dark horse here, while there’s also Samurai’s Fijians and the defending champs, UBB. It’s going to be a big final day. I’m looking forward to it.”

Kylem O’Donnell, Kiri Kiri’s co-captain in 2016, is playing for YCAC with his brother Declan O’Donnell, much to the Penguins leader’s surprise.

“I had no idea until I saw Kylem in our hotel walking around with his brother in his YCAC gear! I’m pretty disappointed not to have him here with me,” said Kiri Kiri. “He’s a bloody great player and the Player of the Tournament last time, so we’ve got a bit of work ahead of us if we come across him.”

YCAC had to work hard to beat US debutants CCIG Tigers 12-0 following a 45-0 romp over Devils Own Shanghai Silver Devils and finished with a 17-0 win over sixth seeds King’s College sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance.

Declan was one of the first day’s standouts and the 27-year-old said he enjoyed his debut at the 10s, having watched the tournament previously while with New Zealand for the Hong Kong Sevens.

“I only got a couple of tries today, but I gave a few assists for the boys as well,” smiled O’Donnell, who moved from the Blues to the Chiefs this year.

“We’re playing all right, but in dribs and drabs. I think when we get it all together, we’ll be one of the top contenders, but all the other sides are the same. They’ve all had scares. Penguins drew their last game when they should have won, so it just shows.”

UBB struggled to beat 16th seeds Hunter + Boo East Africans 10-7 in their Pool A opener, found their rhythm in a 47-0 win over 12th seeds A-Trade Overseas Old Boys and had to come from behind to beat Classic Wallabies 29-5.

Head coach Matt Clarkin is looking to lead the top seeds to back-to-back Cup titles, but the former UBB captain played down his team’s chances as well as the shock of almost losing to the bottom seeds.

“We weren’t exactly happy with our first hit out, but I think we were just finding our feet. There’s a lot of new guys so we’re trying to make combinations and luckily we managed to scrape a win and learned a hell of a lot from it. That shows the boys are intelligent enough to learn from their mistakes and we were happy with the second win,” said Clarkin.

“Against the Wallabies, we wanted to start well, so conceding an early try wasn’t ideal, but the boys showed character to come back and take control of the game. I think we’ll compete with the big boys again, but we’re not thinking about the Cup yet. You look too far ahead, you end up falling over your feet.”

Samurai – fielding an all-Fijian squad coached by Nasoni Roko – beat Sedbergh School Old Boys 42-0, came from behind to beat Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles 34-19 and had to hold on for a draw with a highly motivated Pyrenees side, who will face YCAC in the quarter-finals.

GFI has title sponsored the event since 2006. Other sponsors and suppliers for 2018 include Natixis (Gold Sponsor), AIA, Allied World, BT, DHL, Q-Net and Taikoo Place (Silver Sponsors), CBRE, EY and Markel (Bronze Sponsors), Last Word Media, Volvo (Official Car), Grolsch (Official Beer) and Samurai Sportswear (Official Apparel).

The Official Charity is the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, created in support of former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Inaugurated in 1986 to celebrate Hong Kong Football Club’s centenary, the GFI HKFC 10s has long attracted the game’s top players including seven All Blacks who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino (both 2003), Ben Smith, Charlie Faumuina (both 2008), Beauden Barrett, Sam Cane (both 2010) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013).

Bowl Quarter-Finals

09:00 Classic Wallabies (8) v Natixis HKFC (15)

09:30 Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (9) v Devil’s Own Shanghai Silver Dragons (14)

09:55 CCIG Tigers (10) v Sedbergh School Old Boys (13)

10:25 Irish Vikings (11) v Hunter + Boo East Africans (16)


Cup Quarter-Finals

11:15 UBB Gavekal (1) v Projecx Waterboys (7)

11:45 Samurai International (4) v King’s College sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance (6)

12:10 Tradition YCAC (3) v Kir Club Pyrenees (5)

12:40 Turkish Airlines Penguins (2) v A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (12)

Note: Seeding in brackets




Times:             Wed, April 4: 9.30am-8.30pm; Thu, April 5: 9.00am-7.30pm

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