Nine-try Hong Kong crush Singapore to capture Asia’s runners-up spot
‘Perfect’ regional champions Kazakhstan stay undefeated and unbowed with 49-17 romp over Japan
Kazakhstan retained their Asian Women’s Rugby Championship crown with a 49-17 victory over Japan, but it was the tournament hosts who raised the loudest cheer at Aberdeen Sports Ground on Saturday.
Fourth seeds Hong Kong had started the four-nation contest as the team “least likely to succeed”, but a comprehensive 53-5 demolition of Singapore in their final match earned them the regional runners-up spot.
It also left them wondering what might have been had they started the tournament the way they finished it.
In the end a narrow opening loss to Kazakhstan (13-10) prevented Hong Kong from finishing as the top women’s fifteens side in Asia, despite them rebounding mid-week with a determined 15-14 win against second seeds Japan.
“We are getting closer to where we want to be, but as a coach you always want more from the players,” said Hong Kong coach Chris Garvey.
“Overall I’m very pleased. If we are being honest with ourselves we never thought we would get anything out of the Kazakhstan match and we thought the Japan match would be extremely tough, but the girls have surpassed their own expectations.
“We set out to get third place but finished runners-up, which is fantastic.”
Hong Kong captain Christy Cheng Ka-chi agreed with her coach. “This tournament has given us a lot of confidence and we now see ourselves capable of being Asia’s number one in the future,” she said.
On Saturday, Hong Kong were too strong and too quick for Singapore, running in nine tries in a one-sided rout.
Hat-tricks from fly-half Rose Fong Siu-lan and winger Natasha Olson-Thorne propelled the home team to victory.
“Credit to the girls, two of whom got hat-tricks and showed a couple of individual moments of brilliance,” Garvey added. “But it was the team effort that allowed those individuals to shine.”
In the other Asian Four Nations clash on Saturday, scrum-half Amina Baratova and winger Nigora Nurmatova each grabbed a brace as Kazakhstan ran in nine tries against Japan and reclaim bragging rights as the top team in the region.
“I thought we played a lot better as a unit today and I was really pleased, especially in the first quarter,” coach Adam McDonald said of his Kazakh charges.
“The determination that the girls showed and their improvement in recycling the ball and retaining possession for long periods, was very pleasing from my perspective.”
Kazakhstan dominated all facets of play against Japan. They had the match sewn up early on and went into the half-time break 29-0 ahead.
Japan winger Ayako Tanaka gave her team a brief flicker of hope when she scored soon after the restart, but despite another try from impressive number eight Mami Okada, Japan were no match for the physical Kazakhs.
Japan finished the tournament in third place, with Singapore propping up the final standings.