HK new caps find Germany too hot to handle
Hong Kong blooded 11 new caps - six in the starting line-up, five off the bench - and ended with a bloody nose in their opening game of their European tour when they went down 34-13 to a strong and physical Germany in Heidelberg.
'It was a disappointing performance and result but yet again vital if we are to remain in the top three in Asia,' said Hong Kong head coach Dai Rees. Hong Kong's next game will be against Norway.
Germany, following recent internationals against Holland and Poland, looked far more cohesive and organised than the Hong Kong squad led by Tom McColl.
But it was Hong Kong who had all the early advantage, winning good field position in the first 15 minutes before it all went to waste as a poor lineout denied the backs quality ball.
'We lost our first five lineouts and were unable to build any sustained attacking pressure,' Rees said. 'This lack of quality set-piece ball remained the feature of our play during the match.'
Germany's opening try came against the run of play when a loose pass was intercepted by winger Thomas Keinhost, who ran 80 metres to touch down. Flyhalf Tim Kasten missed the conversion but was on target with five penalty kicks to extend the scoreline to 20-0. A penalty from Matthew Price put Hong Kong's first points on the board and the score was 20-3 at the break.
Germany centre Benjamin Krause crashed over for his side's second try and then hooker and captain Alexander Widiker touched down - with Hong Kong down to 14 after flanker Renaud Chavanis had been sin-binned - as Germany led comfortably 34-6 with Price knocking over his second penalty.
The introduction of new caps off the bench - Oliver Jones, Alvin Chik Man-hon, Phil Leung and Matthew Nuttall - had an immediate effect and signalled Hong Kong's best period of the match. Jones scored on his international debut when he bulldozed his way over from close range with McColl converting.
'As in 2009, this European tour is already proving to be a vital development tool for Hong Kong to remain in the top tier of Asian rugby as we move towards the HSBC Asian Five Nations next year,' Rees said.
'This game has given first-time senior international experience to 11 new players and provided an early international season benchmark for both players and coaches.
'The tour is providing the new players with the experience and intensity required at international level, on and off the field. This exposure to international competition is vital as we continue to develop the next generation of senior players.'