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Hong Kong Cup of Nations 2016

Newcomer Will Eversfield thrives on full shift in Hong Kong’s 51-5 drubbing of Papua New Guinea

An impressive first half featuring tries to Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Cado Lee Ka-to and Dan Falvey sees the hosts coast to victory in their Cup of Nations opener

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:29pm

If you had told Will Eversfield as recently as four months ago he’d be playing 80 minutes in the second row for Hong Kong in a 51-5 drubbing of Papua New Guinea, he wouldn’t have believed you.

Far from it. But, after only moving to Hong Kong in July to play for the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers, he did all of that and more on Cup of Nations opening night on Friday.

Eversfield was born in Hong Kong but moved to London three years later and was there until the Tigers came calling in July.

Representing Hong Kong was not even on his radar when he arrived here and the national side have only the Tigers to thank for their latest forward acquisition.

“It’s all happened pretty quick,” Eversfield said.

“I arrived here in July and played a few games for Tigers and was then thrown straight into it and I’m loving it.

“I didn’t know anything, I knew I was born here so I knew I qualified but I didn’t expect it all to happen this fast.”

The 22-year-old has experience playing for Newcastle University and also represented England students against the likes of France and Ireland in March.

He showed plenty of positive signs in his first game and loved every bit of the 80-minute shift he put in.

“Tigers and then this, it just keeps getting better and better,” he said.

“I was blowing a bit towards the end of the second half but it was a good run out and let’s hope we can take the momentum into the next couple of games.”

Lock Eversfield is a valuable commodity for Hong Kong in an area they are thin in and assistant coach Andy Hall was full of praise for his first-up performance.

“He’s integrated well, he’s quite a smart kid so he’s taking things on quickly,” Hall said.

“He ran the line-outs today and our ball was certainly successful. For him to come in that quickly and adapt and then perform how he did was really pleasing to see.”

Hong Kong could not have asked for a much better start to their Cup of Nations campaign, blowing PNG away with a clinical first half.

Papua New Guinea’s inclusion in Cup of Nations all part of Hong Kong Rugby Union’s grand plan

Smart running, precise passing and intent at the set piece were commonplace as Hong Kong put their opponent to the sword in a performance that impressed Hall and augurs well for upcoming games against Zimbabwe and Russia.

“We are pleased with the win and obviously delighted for those new caps to get a win under their belt in their first game,” Hall said.

“Our set piece was stronger. If you take away their set piece and you have a strong set piece, the platform is easy and the game becomes very simple.”

After an even opening 10 minutes to the game, Hong Kong kicked into gear through a try to Salom Yiu Kam-shing.

Soon after, first-gamer Mat Lamont split the PNG defence with a barnstorming run before sending Cado Lee Ka-to over as Hong Kong skipped out to a 17-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Dan Falvey and Tyler Spitz also got in on the act as the hosts stormed into the break with a 34-0 advantage.

First-time Hong Kong captain Ed Rolston ready to write his own script after rugby intermission

The second half was a far scrappier affair, but tries to Yiu and captain Ed Rolston kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Matt Rosslee’s faultless kicking display also helped Hong Kong push further ahead, with the fly half booting three penalties and six conversions, although Hall admitted the second half showed there is work to be done.

“We are well aware that the tests around the corner against Zimbabwe and Russia are going to be significantly tougher,” he said.

“We just altered our approach in the second half. We were a little bit tighter in the first half and a little bit more structured, we just altered our approach somewhat in the second half with a view to what is around the corner.

Papua New Guinea’s addition to Cup of Nations can make ‘players more rounded’, says Hong Kong’s Leigh Jones

“One element of our game that wasn’t great was our restarts. Whenever we scored they immediately got back into the game because of our failure to deal effectively with the restarts.

“That is something we will be approaching a bit more diligently over the next couple of days.”

PNG’s only score came via an intercept try to centre Tisa Kautu.

Earlier, tournament favourites Russia posted a closer than expected 19-15 win over a gallant Zimbabwe.