HK juniors prove too hot to handle
Hong Kong produced a performance to match the searing heat to reach the final of the Olympus Capital Asian Junior Championship with a 51-10 win over Sri Lanka yesterday.
An eight-try blitz under trying conditions - the game was played at noon with temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celsius on a baking Hong Kong Football Club pitch - saw the home team book their berth in Saturday's final against surprise packages Taiwan.
'Don't ask me why we played at this time of the day,' said Hong Kong coach Mike Allen. Hong Kong defeated Malaysia 69-9 in their opening game of the seven-team tournament last Saturday.
Hong Kong's backs were impressive, with skipper and outside centre Ed Rolston leading the way as they turned possession into points, punching holes in a porous defence at will.
'It was closer than the scoreline indicated,' Rolston said. 'It was really tough out there, the heat as well as the opposition and we were lucky to come off with such a big score. I guess the home support and the hot conditions helped us.'
Winger Joe Bisgrove ran in a brace of tries with the others scored by scrumhalf Paul Bosco, winger Alex Raper, fullback Dominic Jacobson, loosehead prop Chris Carpio and flyhalf Niall Rowark, who also knocked over four conversions and a penalty.
Taiwan stunned defending champions South Korea 34-29 in the earlier game. A try in sudden-death extra time from Sun Hsin-chien gave Taiwan a deserved victory.
'It is a surprise we won't be playing Korea in the final,' Rolston said. 'But Taiwan are a tough team. We lost to them two years ago and this will give us the chance to avenge that loss.'
It will also give Hong Kong a golden opportunity to claim their first Asian under-20 crown.