Hong Kong U20s hope to go out on a high
One statistic highlights the progress made by Hong Kong at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy as they prepare to face Canada on Saturday in the battle for the crumbs in the eight-team tournament.
Hong Kong missed 31 tackles against Tonga, but only 13 against Georgia and the results were plain to see – having led Georgia 8-7 at one stage, Hong Kong conceded two late tries to end on the wrong side of a 21-8 result.
Another marked improvement against Canada in the seventh-place play-off at Hong Kong Football Club will give coach Pale Tauti and team management some satisfaction.
"There is no doubt the kick up the backside after the Tonga game worked," said Tauti, who had been disappointed with the defensive performance, especially one-on-one tackles.
Hong Kong not only tightened up their play in midfield, but at times also looked dangerous with ball in hand with diminutive fullback Hugo Stiles impressing, along with scrum half James Christie.
Canada started the eight-team tournament as second seeds, but have yet to win a game.
"Canada will be looking to bounce back. They'll be playing with some fire in their belly, so it will not be easy for us," Tauti said. "But I still think we're in with a chance of getting a win. We have got nothing to lose."
"We'll be looking to build on that Georgia performance. We played with a much more positive attitude against them than against Tonga. We want to continue that form," Tauti said.
Tonga take on Japan in the final to decide which team will qualify for next year's IRB Junior World Championships in Italy.
Asian champions Japan lost three title deciders in this tournament between 2010 and 2012 and will be hoping it will be fourth time lucky as they bid to reach the world championship for the first time.
In Tonga's case, they will be hoping to return to the elite group for the first time since 2011.
The United States will meet Uruguay in the third place play-off, while Georgia take on Namibia for fifth place.
Click on the link for full JWRT match times and results.