Penalty try lets HK out of jail
A penalty try in injury-time gave Hong Kong a face-saving draw against Singapore in the 'A' international at Happy Valley last night.
The final scoreline, 17-17, was greeted with contrasting moods. While the the dazed Singaporeans were wondering how they had let slip a victory which was theirs for the taking, a delirious Hong Kong outfit were celebrating their escape from jail.
The home team had to thank referee Leo Chuan for the great escape. Trailing 10-17 and deep into injury-time, Hong Kong were parked inside the opposition 22. They won a penalty and in the rush to take it quickly, a Hong Kong player was impeded.
Referee Chuan was in no doubt that the Singaporeans had deliberately not retired the required 10 metres. He awarded Hong Kong a penalty try under the post.
'It was a professional foul. They didn't move back 10 metres,' said Chuan afterwards.
Singapore coach Justin Sampson could not believe what he had seen.
'I have never seen anything like that. You give a penalty try if you're absolutely certain that a try would have been scored. But in this case there was no way a try would have been scored,' said Sampson.
Hong Kong coach Wiremu Maunsell conceded that his team were lucky to walk away with a win.
While the result hinged around that controversial try, Maunsell was pleased with the way Hong Kong came back into the game after it looked as if they were well beaten with Singapore leading 17-3 midway through the second half with tries from Koh Kok Pin and Azman Bin Hassan.
The comeback began when Causeway Bay winger Yong Chi-fung scored a 70-metre breakaway try after picking up a failed penalty attempt by Mohammed Azhar.
Azhar should have sealed victory for his side if he had converted that penalty and a couple of other missed attempts, but instead Hong Kong had scaled back the deficit to a mere seven points after Lam Kwong-shun converted Yong's try.
Then came the penalty try.
'We let Hong Kong off the hook. We should have finished them off at 17-3,' said Sampson.