Work in progress: Hong Kong thrash South Korea to end 2016 Asian championship on a high
Fly-half Ben Rimene scores 21 points to help secure second spot in series but there is still room for improvement, says coach Leigh Jones
More player depth and a stronger domestic competition are at the top of Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones’ wish list after his side finished the Asia Rugby Championship on a high on Saturday.
Hong Kong turned in their most impressive performance of the series to brush aside South Korea 41-15, but Jones was already looking forward ahead of a three-week break for the team.
“We’d like more player depth, we’d like a more intense domestic competition, so this jump from club rugby to international rugby isn’t as big,” Jones said.
WATCH: Ben Rimene runs in a belter of a try to seal victory for Hong Kong over Korea:
WATCH: Behind the scenes with the Hong Kong 15s squad and coaching staff:
“But we’ll get there. Small steps.”
Hong Kong began the series with the aim of getting the wood over South Korea and has done just that, with the victory securing second spot in the ARC and two wins from two matches against the Koreans.
Jones was pleased with the result, but was not getting too caught up in the size of the win.
“Today’s win was important just to show progress,” he said.
“Korea are no mugs. I think people half expect us to win against Korea now. They are a damn good side and it’s going to be a difficult game year in, year out. It’s not going to get any easier next year.”
There was plenty to like about Hong Kong’s performance, with the set piece they have been putting so much work into starting to show signs of improvement.
“I think our set piece improved out of sight today and gave us a platform,” Jones said.
“Also, we just took our opportunities. All credit to the guys behind the scrum, they just took their half-chances and made them into something.”
Fly-half Ben Rimene capped a sensational series with another brilliant performance.
He was in everything, scoring a try of his own and again turning in a flawless kicking display to end with 21 points.
The first half of the match was neck and neck throughout, with plenty of niggle and a number of spot fires developing.
It took Hong Kong until the 40th minute to gain any sort of ascendancy, with Jamie Hood setting up Ryan Meacheam for a try to give the home side a 24-15 half-time lead.
It was Meacheam again who sparked Hong Kong after the break, crossing on the back of a spectacular run and pass from Rimene to push the margin out to 16 points.
Toby Fenn and Jamie Robinson also scored tries for Hong Kong, while Lee Soop-yeong and Kim Min-kyu crossed for South Korea.
The visitors made it hard for themselves with countless errors, with Hong Kong playing with more freedom as the margin increased.
There was a nice moment after 65 minutes when 20-year-old Finlay Field, playing his first test, replaced Paul Dwyer in his last international match.
It was a tough day at the office for South Korea, with coach John Walters disappointed to see his side go backwards.
“We just couldn’t get ourselves in the game and couldn’t get a flow on,” he said.
“You can’t build pressure when you can’t hold on to the ball or win the set piece.”