Visa problem fails to dull Cup romp

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 2:59pm

The only problem Hong Kong have faced so far in their bid to win the second leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series came before they left for Thailand, when Tomasi Lawa was refused permission to board the plane as he didn't have a valid visa.

Despite his absence, Hong Kong moved smoothly into the Cup quarter-finals with wins over China and the hosts yesterday.

The absence of Fijian-born Lawa, who made his debut earlier this month at the Malaysia Sevens left the squad a forward short. But with the next generation of Hong Kong-born youngsters like Raef Morrison and Max Woodward stepping up, the side faced few problems on the first day.

"Tomasi had some passport issues at the airport and unfortunately we had to leave him behind," coach Dai Rees said. "We brought in Josh Peters for him and he has fitted in seamlessly."

Hong Kong beat China 36-0 in their first game before dampening the cheers of the home fans with a 33-7 victory over Thailand to book a place in the last eight of the knockout stage today against Kazakhstan.

"It was a good solid opening day. We played some good rugby under tough conditions and everyone had a game-and-a-half," said head coach Dai Rees. "We would like to think that we are on course to another meeting with Japan in the final."

A win against Kazakhstan will see Hong Kong take on either South Korea or the Philippines in the semi-finals. Japan also finished unbeaten and will meet Malaysia in the quarter-finals and could meet either Sri Lanka or Thailand in the semis.