Chris McAdam and Tom McColl impress as Hong Kong begin title defence with win

McAdam and returning McColl impress as champions open defence by beating Zimbabwe

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 3:03am

Zimbabwe might have the better rugby pedigree, having featured in two World Cups - 1987 and 1991 - but Hong Kong proved they could match, and better, such an accomplished team as they began their title defence at the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations with a solid 22-7 victory over the champions of Africa.

Led superbly by Tom McColl, returning after a 16-month break during which he earned his pilot wings for a rival airline, a new-look Hong Kong - who have chosen to rest most of their sevens stars - looked more composed than their feisty opponents to secure a comfortable win after trailing 7-6 at the break.

Spurred on by coach Leigh Jones' halftime pep-talk - "you have had your 40 minutes to settle down, now get out and do your job" - Hong Kong stifled Zimbabwe with a superb blanket defence while taking the opportunities which came their way.

Fly-half Chris McAdam, one of several new faces in the backs, proved his bright new boots also had a purpose, as he knocked over five penalties and converted the solitary try by McColl who was on hand to complete a lovely break by winger Salom Yiu Kam-shing midway through the second half.

"The quality of this game was up from last year, and while we made a few mistakes, we also showed a lot of maturity," said manager Dai Rees. "This is just the start we wanted."

Top-ranked Belgium crushed hosts United Arab Emirates 94-3 in the opening game of the tournament to underline the danger they pose to Hong Kong.

It was a well below-par performance from the hosts as Belgium, ranked 23rd in the world, coasted to a comfortable 14-try victory with fullback Alan Williams scoring 44 points including four tries and 12 conversions.