Hong Kong will need to get their scrummaging in order for a win-at-all-costs encounter against Kazakhstan in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five competition at Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday.
One of the prime reasons for their shock 16-9 loss to the Arabian Gulf in Bahrain last Friday was the scrum's malfunction. They lost six of their own put-ins and most of the others resulted in untidy ball leading to the lack of an attacking platform.
'We struggled in our scrummaging,' forwards' coach Brian Higgins said. 'Not only did we lose six of our own scrums, but most of the rest resulted in either the ball shooting out of the sides or untidy ball, which prevented us from going forward.'
While Higgins said no drastic changes would be made to the front five, the next couple of training sessions would concentrate on scrummaging, especially with Kazakhstan featuring one of the biggest packs in the competition
'The problem began with our first scrum in Bahrain where we were penalised on the hit going in too early,' Higgins said. 'Our front five are not very big and we had to work hard on the timing of our hit, but with that being taken away by the referee we struggled against the Gulf's bigger set of forwards.'
'Kazakhstan will have a solid pack with a big tight five and big loose forwards. We will have to work on our scrummaging and ensure we win our own scrums,' he said.
'We will be looking at the video of our game against the Gulf and the guys will have to learn from that.'
The loss to the Arabian Gulf has thrown open the race for second place, with defending champions Japan being outright favourites to clinch the automatic World Cup berth given to Asia. They confirmed their leading status with a 71-13 win over South Korea last weekend.