Johnny stunned to see his name above Serevi in scoring stats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 2006, 12:00am

Chinese captain Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang, leading points scorer at the Hong Kong Sevens since it became part of the IRB series, said he was 'very surprised' to see his name above the likes of Fijian maestro Waisale Serevi when he peered at the statistics that were presented to him yesterday morning.

'It was very much outside of my expectations,' said Zhang, who also topped the table together with Jovesa Naivalu for the most tries - 20-a-piece. 'But I have been playing here in Hong Kong for the past seven years so maybe that has something to do with it.'

But Zhang's pace was unable to lift the Chinese for their encounter against South Africa, to whom they succumbed 43-7.

For much of the match the Chinese were bogged down in their own 22, from where they tried desperately to cling to the ball and keep it away from the South Africans. But too often their gallant defence came undone with basic handling errors that gifted the Springboks most of their chances. Ryan Kankowski topped the scoring with two tries to help South Africa to a 17-0 lead at the break.

The Chinese appeared to tire in the second half as South Africa continued to pile on the pressure, and the Boks slipped past four more times to notch up 43 points.

But China's best moment came with the final whistle when the ball was punted upfield and collected by Johnny Zhang, who's deft behind-the-back pass fooled an unsuspecting Springbok defence and sent Zhang Heng to the touchline. Johnny added the conversion to make it 43-7.

Johnny said he was encouraged that China had managed to get on the scoresheet but the team were too inexperienced to pose a real challenge to the Springboks.

'It is our first time to score against South Africa so naturally we are very happy,' said Johnny. 'But our team is too inexperienced. We have four players in the competition for the first time and our defence was a bit lacking.'

'We didn't tire physically in the second half but perhaps we did psychologically. Like I said it is a young team and we'll learn from the experience,' said Johnny.

He hoped the team would be able to put up a decent fight against Wales when they meet this morning, and he has set his sights on Portugal whom they hope to beat to secure a place in the Plate Competition.