Asian Five Nations 2014

Coach Jones demands ‘great improvement’ from Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 11:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 2014, 3:51pm

Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones has warned his players that their error count was unacceptable in their 41-10 win over Sri Lanka in the Asian Five Nations and demanded serious improvement as they try to keep their World Cup dream alive against South Korea.

Hong Kong are top of the standings with a maximum 12 points from two games, Japan and South Korea are on six, but with a game in hand.

"We will have to go back to the drawing board this week and look at ways to optimise our chances for the crucial encounter against Korea," warned Jones after watching Hong Kong spurn at least six scoring opportunities due to poor ball handling.

"The humidity made the ball greasy but it's not acceptable the number of chances we spilled," Jones said. "We are going to have minimal chances this week and if we don't take two from four chances and have a 50 to 70 per cent success rate, we are going to struggle against Korea. We have to improve our execution."

The humidity made the ball greasy but it’s not acceptable the number of chances we spilled
Leigh Jones

Hong Kong were fortunate that their superior pack totally dominated the set pieces, winning the lineouts and scrums. This will not be the case this weekend at home to Korea, whose scrummaging is among the best in Asia.

The other major worry for Jones was the breakdown where Sri Lanka, especially in the second half, had the edge over a tiring Hong Kong.

"I thought Sri Lanka won the battle of the contact area and stopped us playing. We need to go back and have another close look at this area and make sure our priorities are right this week," Jones said.

"I'm pretty clear about my starting team for Korea. It was important to give the whole squad a chance to put up their hands and we have done that and got away with it with two comfortable victories. Now it will be the best starting 15 for Korea."

With Japan all but certain to win the A5N and qualify for the World Cup, victory over Korea is a must if Hong Kong are to finish second and reach the preliminary round repêchage for the tournament, against Uruguay.