Aussie champs hail brave China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am

Australia captain Cheryl Soon tipped China to be potential world beaters after she led her team to a hard-fought 24-7 victory over the mainlanders in the final of the Cable & Wireless Hong Kong women's sevens.

Australia, playing together as a sanctioned national team for the first time in Hong Kong, needed to dig deep before coming away with victory against a team Soon called 'phenomenal'.

China, who won the Bowl tournament at the World Cup in Dubai earlier this month, had never played at Hong Kong Stadium before. But the national squad, who have only been together as a team for six months, lit up the tournament with their enthusiastic approach to the game - and gave the team from Down Under a huge fright before Australia's class and experience told in the end.

Two tries from Rebecca Tavo and one apiece from Soon and Debby Hogdkinson sealed the issue after China threatened to make a real game of it when Yang Hong touched down midway through the first half.

'All credit to China, they dominated us, especially in the breakdowns. We knew they were going to be strong and physical and we knew they were fit and fast. For us, we just executed our game plan well and that's all we wanted to do and that paid off for us in the end,' said Soon.

The Aussie captain took her hat off to the Chinese, saying their skill level was remarkable for a team who hadn't been on the scene for long.

'I think they are phenomenal. We were watching them play throughout the day and we knew they were going to be a major threat. Their skills were just amazing. They are a good team and they are definitely a team to watch out for the future,' said Soon.

Asked how long before China could become a major force, Soon replied: 'I think they are pretty close to it right now. They are big physical girls.'

China coach Zheng Hongjun said the support from fans had helped his team.

'We have never played in this stadium so we are going to treasure the moment. I am very satisfied with our performance because we were playing against a much stronger and more experienced team. We gave it our best shot,' said Zheng.

Soon said her team would savour winning the Hong Kong Sevens on the back of their World Cup triumph.

'It's feels very special to win here after winning in Dubai two weeks ago. They were a couple of changes from that squad but it's pretty much the same squad. It was a bit slippery out there, but we played well and it was a really good game,' Soon said.