First Sevens World Cup silverware in sight for Hong Kong
Salom Yiu Kam-shing's try lifts gloom and offers shot at a piece of World Cup silverware in Bowl
There was no beer at the Luzhniki Stadium but Salom Yiu Kam-shing gave a small band of Hong Kong fans a huge high when he scored a match-winning try against Portugal in the dying seconds that might prove the catalyst towards the team returning with silverware for the first time from the World Cup.
Hong Kong edged Portugal 17-14 in their last pool game yesterday, a victory coach Dai Rees says will give the team the strength and belief to go all the way today in the knockout Bowl competition.
"We can face day three with a bit of confidence because this win will give the guys the extra psychological energy that can help us to win a bit of silverware," Rees said after his men set up a Bowl quarter-final with Georgia.
Hong Kong came from 14-0 down to overhaul Portugal with unconverted tries by Lee Jones and Alex McQueen laying the foundation before Yiu finished it off with a last-gasp dive.
"I was just finishing it off and completing the job my team had done. All I could think of was crossing the line," said Yiu.
Rees added: "This performance is testament to how good we can be. We had two good halves against Argentina and England, but at last we put a complete game together."
After Friday's opening nightmare when they lost 47-7 to Argentina, Hong Kong began yesterday on a somewhat better note with a more spirited display before going down 38-7 to England.
Winger Yiu was the try-scorer in that match too, picking up from a ruck in front of the posts to dart in and score the first try of the match before England reasserted control through the sheer power of their forwards and the pace of their backs like Dan Norton, who scored two of their seven tries.
At that stage, a resigned Rees said this tournament was probably a bridge too far for a squad which has been together for the past 10 months, taking Hong Kong to the Asian crown for the first time and to London in a bid to become a core team in the HSBC Sevens World Series.
But although the atmosphere at the nearly empty 1980 Olympics venue was flat - thanks to a ban on sales of alcohol - Rowan Varty and his men provided the fizz with their win over Portugal.
"The thing is that now expectations have risen and when we lose to teams like Argentina - who we beat in Hong Kong three months ago - and England everyone feels disappointed. But this win over Portugal is superb," said Trevor Gregory, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman.
If Hong Kong beat Georgia, they will likely face old rivals Japan in the semis, with Asian bragging rights at stake.