HK won't forget 'barbaric' Tunis game

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am


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A bruised and battered Hong Kong squad returned yesterday from Tunis having run a 'barbaric' gauntlet as part of their preparation for the Asian Five Nations which kicks off later this month.

'It was a very dirty and barbaric game,' said Hong Kong No.8 Nigel Clarke who figured prominently in the 29-9 return-leg loss to Tunisia last Saturday. 'There was a lot of gouging going on and it was not the most pleasant game to play in.'

Clarke (pictured) returned sporting a huge black eye, a souvenir from the Tunisian forwards who were apparently intent on exacting a measure of revenge for the controversial 25-12 loss at the Hong Kong Football Club on April 5.

'I'm afraid we came out worse for wear. The referee didn't have any control over the game. He was not biased, it was just that he wasn't very good,' added Clarke, who had to step into the No.8 slot after captain Semi Iafeta was ruled out due to a hamstring injury he picked up in the first match.

Hong Kong trailed Tunisia 7-6 at the break, but the hosts then ran in four more tries to the one they scored in the first half to comfortably emerge winners.

Hong Kong's points were all scored by flyhalf Kenzo Pannell who knocked over three penalties. But it was Tunisian counterpart Lotfi Ben M'sallem who took the honours, winning the man-of-the-match award.

'We just ran out of steam. It was a very tough and physical game and they applied a lot of pressure. They were very good in broken play and ran in the tries,' recounted Clarke. 'We just couldn't get out of trouble. The more we tried, the more we got into trouble.'

Despite the defeat, Clarke said the squad remained upbeat and revealed the week's stay in Tunisia would benefit the team at the Asian Five Nations.

'It has been a very good week. We have prepared well and the fact that we were just concentrating on rugby all week will do us good at the Asian Five Nations,' Clarke added.