Hong Kong bounce back to stop Russia in Singapore Sevens
Paul John’s charges fell Bears after tough losses against Fiji and Canada as Hong Kong side focus on Challenge Trophy quarter-final against Scotland
Hong Kong’s against-the-odds victory against Russia at the Singapore Sevens left coach Paul John full of optimism as he set his sights on further making his mark on his new side.
After tough losses to Fiji (40-0) and Canada (34-0), Hong Kong bounced back to knock off Russia 26-19 and John turned his focus to Sunday’s Challenge Trophy quarter-final meeting with Scotland and beyond.
“Scotland are a really good side, they are an experienced group of players and they have got a lot of World Series tournaments amongst them,” John said.
“It’s about us taking steps now and we have got to regroup, progress the programme and try and do well in the Asian series next year, try again to qualify for the Sevens World Cup and try again to qualify for the World Series.”
John will have his work cut out getting Hong Kong on to the HSBC World Sevens Series, however the former Wales coach is nothing but positive about what he has to work with.
“They care and it’s great for us as coaches when you see people caring about their environment and trying as hard as they do,” he said. “It shows they will always give it their all.”
Making Hong Kong’s victory even more impressive is the fact they did it with 11 men after Lee Jones and Ryan Meacheam suffered tournament-ending injuries against Canada.
John hailed Hong Kong’s confidence against Russia after they looked hesitant in their opening two matches.
“In the first two games we played with a bit of fear and we stood off,” John said. “These boys don’t need to be doing that, they’ve got nothing to lose here.
“We didn’t play enough in the first two games like we trained, we showed them too much respect.”
Salom Yiu Kam-shing was one of the stars of day one for Hong Kong, scoring first against Russia and impressing in all three matches, while Charlie Higson-Smith was aggressive in his first taste of sevens after coming in as the injury replacement.
“That’s what he’s good at. You look at the size of the squads, we need someone like Charles to get experience in sevens because he’s a bigger boy,” John said.
“Salom has been very good today and I thought Cado [Lee Ka-to] was good in that last game.”
Jamie Hood, Toby Fenn and Lee also scored against Russia as Hong Kong led 14-12 at the break before skipping out to a 26-12 advantage.
John said nerves contributed to Hong Kong’s loss to Fiji, with a host of turnovers seeing them trailing 19-0 by the break, while Hong Kong also found themselves down 19-0 at half-time against Canada.
“The Fiji game went exactly as I expected it to … I understand the boys being a bit nervous on this stage,” John said.
‘”The Canada game was a bit of a disappointment. We went 19 points down and then our heads dropped.”
Hong Kong took it to Canada for much of the first half and perhaps should have scored, but the floodgates opened in the shadows of the break and Canada pulled away to a 19-0 lead.
As well as Fiji and Canada, Australia, South Africa, USA, New Zealand, England and Kenya progressed to the Cup quarter-finals.