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27th March 2014

Dragons duo top pools at GFI HKFC Tens, while holders Penguins to face second seeds Samurai in quarter-finals

The all-star BGC Dragons, coached for the third year by All Blacks legend Tana Umaga, beat newcomers JML IRANZ 17-7 to top Pool C and set up a Cup quarter-final with fourth seeds Borneo Eagles on Thursday.

Fijian Apisalome Waqatabu scored two tries for Umaga’s first-string side in the decisive group match between the third and sixth seeds at Hong Kong Football Club.

Umaga’s second-string team, the Carinat Dragons, also topped their group after a surprise 12-12 draw with second seeds Samurai in the final Pool B match, with the seventh seeds leading the standings after scoring more tries during the day.

Top seeds Penguins earlier topped Pool A after a feisty 26-7 win against East Hotel HK Scottish Exiles and the reigning champions will face Samurai in the quarter-finals in a grudge match between last year’s finalists.

Umaga coached BGC Dragons to victory in 2012, but his side lost to Penguins in last year’s quarter-finals and he has admitted he’s determined to resolve some ‘unfinished business’.

“We finished first so that’s what we were looking for. Actually, both our sides finished top, so we’re very happy, as that was our aim,” said Umaga, whose BGC Dragons earlier beat Newedge Club (31-7) and Lloyd McDermott Warriors (48-0).

“I’m proud of all of our players. I can’t say enough about them, about how much grit they showed. It’s great. They’re fired up because it means a bit to them and if it means a little bit, they play a bit harder.”

Penguins marched into the quarters after a feisty encounter against Scottish that featured three current England Sevens players – Christian Lewis-Pratt, Mark Odejobi and Callum Wilson – against three current Scotland Sevens internationals in Iain Moody and towering twins Lewis and Gregor Young.

Fijian scrumhalf Varasiko Duisokosoko and powerful winger Afa Va’atau each scored two tries for the defending champions, who had three men yellow carded in a bruising encounter.

Willie Walker, captaining Penguins for the second time in three years, said the team required a hard workout after convincing but unimpressive wins over Hong Kong Lions (43-0) and Irish Vikings (19-0).

“It was a tough game. It has been a tough day. To finish with a good, tough game is probably what we need going into tomorrow,” Walker said. “It has been frustrating. Obviously there have been a few mistakes and a few decisions not going our way, but that’s rugby and we’ve just got to get on with it, but it’s been good.”

The experienced Kiwi flyhalf singled out the livewire Duisokosoko for praise, while also commending the 24-year-old Va’atau.

“Vara’s got really good feet and he can make a break anywhere on the field,” Walker said. “Afa’s just a big man and it’s hard to stop a big man.”

Samurai have twice reached the final, first in 2010, and Terry Sands, the team’s founder, is desperate for his team to win the Cup for the first time at their eighth attempt.

“We’re obviously looking forward to it, a repeat of last year’s final,” Sands said. “Let’s hope that we can reverse it and hope that we can put one over on them. They’re a good side and they’ve brought some good players here, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Fifth seeds Tradition YCAC beat Borneo Eagles 17-0 in the final Pool D match and will face IRANZ on Thursday, while Carinat Dragons will face HK Scottish Exiles in the other Cup quarter-final.

Ninth seeds Tag Heuer Eyewear Pyrenees, who only lost 19-14 to Borneo Eagles, beat Devils Own Wanderers in their final Group D match so remain favourites for the Bowl, contested by the bottom eight sides.

Pyrenees will face Australian side Lloyd McDermott Warriors in Thursday morning’s Bowl quarter-finals. Hosts Newedge Club, the 14th seeds who earlier upset the 10th-seeded Warriors 17-12, will face Devils Own Wanderers.

Irish Vikings, featuring former England Sevens wing Ollie Marchon, will face Hong Kong selection Gavekal Mongrels, while A-Trade Overseas Old Boys will face Hong Kong Lions.

Po Leung Kuk, the tournament’s Official Charity, will receive all proceeds from the HK$100 entrance fee on Thursday (10.40am-8.30pm) and on-site donations.

Now Sports, Hong Kong’s leading pay-TV broadcaster, will air live coverage of the action on both days and a post-tournament highlights show.

GFI Group, a leading provider of brokerage services and trading support products, has title sponsored the event since 2006. Other sponsors this year include UBS (Gold Sponsors), Swire Properties, Mourant Ozannes, RR Donnelly and Allied World Assurance Company (Silver Sponsors), Markel International, Eurofins and East Hotel (Bronze Sponsors), Carlsberg (Official Beer) and Tsunami Sport (Official Apparel).

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) and Justin Marshall (2011 and 2012), the winning captain in 2012.

Now in its 29th 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. Hong Kong Football Club has hosted the annual event since it was first staged in 1986 to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary.

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