Dragons advance to Plate final after ‘physical’ first day
‘Sevens in the Vines’ is tough going for Hong Kong development squad, but coach Barber sees plenty of positives
Hong Kong Dragons advanced to the Plate final at the Margaret River Sevens near Perth on Saturday, after a bruising first day against more experienced and physical opponents.
The Dragons – who are Hong Kong’s men’s sevens development team – narrowly defeated invitational side Fresh 19-17 in the Plate semi-final, thanks in large part to a strong showing by Adam Raby.
The Newedge Club wing scored a try and added two conversions to the tries scored by captain Max Woodward and Tomasi Lawa.
Hong Kong will play invitational side Outlaws in Sunday’s Plate final.
“The Outlaws are a Perth-based team with players from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa,” said Hong Kong sevens coach Gareth Baber.
“They play in a number of sevens tournaments around Australia, and they look like a strong outfit with many seasoned sevens players. So for us as a young group, it’s a new experience and it is going to be tough.”
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong dropped their opening match 26-7 to the pre-tournament favourites, Perth-based side Palmyra.
Lawa, who plays his club rugby for Abacus Kowloon, scored the Dragons’ only try against their more physical opponents. Adam Rolston knocked over the conversion.
“We simply weren’t good enough in the opener,” said Baber. “We came up against some experienced players, not only experienced rugby players, but sevens specialists. They were more physical and I thought we were slightly naive in how we played the game.
“But that result got a response from the team and we realised quickly that we needed to step up to get to a different level. Fortunately as a team we managed to do that in the next two games, so the opener served its purpose,” Baber added.
In their second pool match, against another Perth club called Kalamunda, Hong Kong came out on top 19-17, but it was a tight battle all the way. Veteran Hong Kong Sevens forward Tsang Hing-hung scored a brace and Jonny Rees added a third. Joshua Peters nailed two conversions.
“The two games we won today were only by a couple of points and (we did it) at the death in each game, so we talked a lot about character and how you react as an individual and as a group,” said Baber. “In that respect, what I saw on display today from our guys pleased me.”