Hong Kong reaches final in World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series opener

Hong Kong Rugby Union

 

Hong Kong advanced to the final of the opening tournament in the two-stop World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series in Chile, losing 10-0 to Germany. The results keep Hong Kong on track in their bid to qualify for a full-time spot on the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series.

After their cup win, Germany now takes the maximum 22 points into next week’s action in Montevideo, while Hong Kong are on 19 points as the runners-up. Germany beat Japan 12-5 in their semi final, while Hong Kong overcame a tough ask from hosts Chile, working their way back from their first deficit of the tournament, 14 points down midway through the first half to win 17-14.

Salom Yiu put Hong Kong on the board shortly before the break with Raef Morrison and Kane Boucaut scoring in the second half to push Hong Kong past the hometown favourites. Earlier in the day, Hong Kong edged by Uganda 10-7 thanks to Jack Neville tries on either side of the interval.

HK Men’s 7s captain Max Woodward – Photo by HKRU

As such, it was a battered and bruised Hong Kong, fresh off of 40 hours of travel to the continent, advancing to the Cup final. Those factors conspired against Hong Kong as they disappointed in the final, losing 10-0 to the Germans, and adding another chapter to the burgeoning rivalry between the two developing rugby nations at both sevens and fifteen-a-side.

It was a bittersweet performance for coach Paul John who was proud of his team’s efforts this week: “Overall, we are pleased with our progress. We finished second and reached the final, which is one of our goals at every tournament, but we suffered a second loss in a final, which is frustrating.

“It was not a great final. I thought it was very flat and we didn’t play our best. We started very poorly and fell off some tackles which helped them at key moments.”

Germany scored their first try shortly before the end of an open first half with both sides having several scoring chances. Penalties and aggressive German defence derailed Hong Kong’s early opportunities keeping them scoreless into the second stanza. Germany pushed their lead to 10-0 after nine minutes and Hong Kong were unable to close the gap down the stretch.

“It is funny, we would have taken that result beforehand if you offered it, but the boys are disappointed with the finish. Still, we are right in the mix now to finish near the top of the two tournaments. Coming in we needed a top eight finish, but our goal was to finish in the top two in both tournaments and we have now done that in the first,” John added.

The squad will travel today to Montevideo, Uruguay where they will take part in the finale next weekend with the same 16 teams.

Rest and recovery are at the top of John’s mind.

“There are some battered and bruised bodies out there after playing six games in two days. Normally, we play five matches in the Asian series, so this is something that we have not done in a while, but no one else has either really. Japan is used to it, but I think we are the only two sides with that experience of back-to-back tourneys with such a huge prize at the end

“The biggest thing is to keep the squad as fresh as we can,” said John, who has the luxury of travelling with 16 players to assess before naming the squad at the end of the week.

“We will look at certain parts of our game of course but it s all about recovery now and having the freshest possible squad come Saturday morning in Montevideo,” John concluded.

Hong Kong Sevens (Touring Squad): World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series
Max WOODWARD (captain); Ben RIMENE; Raef MORRISON; Michael COVERDALE; Hugo STILES; Cado LEE Ka-to; Jamie HOOD; Jack NEVILLE; Alex McQUEEN; Liam HERBERT; Russell WEBB; Max DENMARK; Sebastian BRIEN; YIU Kam-shing; Kane BOUCAUT; Toby FENN.

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