HK too strong for Arabian Gulf
Hong Kong opened their account in the HSBC Asian Five Nations campaign by ticking the credit box with an accomplished 20-12 victory over the Arabian Gulf yesterday.
Tries from flying wingers Simon Smith and Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin in each half and the accurate boot of flyhalf Justin Temara, who knocked over 10 points, gave Hong Kong an all-important win in their first game in the tournament.
'It was always important to win the first match as we need to get some momentum going. And it is always tough to win away. It is pleasing that we have got off to such a good start,' said Hong Kong head coach John Walters.
In the other game in Incheon, Asian powerhouse Japan defeated hosts South Korea 39-17 to underline their credentials as hot favourites to win the inaugural tournament. Japan led 29-0 at half-time.
Hong Kong took some time to settle down, and it was the home side who held the upper hand at the end of the first quarter, leading 9-3.
Temara knocked over a penalty but Arabian Gulf fly half Paul Beard soon had Hong Kong on the back foot as he dropped two goals and knocked over a penalty. It took a lovely piece of individualism from scrumhalf Jonny Elliott to settle the nerves. From broken play, he spotted a gap and counter-attacked before off-loading to fullback Rowan Varty who beat two tacklers to slip the try-scoring pass to Smith to score.
Hong Kong led 13-9 at the break before a Beard penalty cut the deficit to one point early in the second half. But Hong Kong did not panic, and once again pulled ahead into the safety zone with another opportunistic try.
The gamble to play Simon Leung, a prop, at No.8 paid off as he put in a competent performance, especially with ball in hand. But it was Leung's vision that saw Hong Kong score their second try. He took a quick lineout and threw the ball to Varty who made an incisive break before passing to Cheuk who in turn chipped and chased, and a kind bounce allowed him to score.