Defence proves key as Hong Kong hang on to beat Portugal
Jamie Robinson try breaks deadlock for 13-6 triumph in Cup of Nations test match
Hong Kong ground out a gutsy 13-6 win over Portugal, thanks to a second-half try from replacement winger Jamie Robinson, to remain unbeaten in the Cup of Nations on Tuesday night.
Russia also kept their undefeated record intact, demolishing Zimbabwe 50-5 to state their case as the team to beat in the tournament.
Hong Kong looked the more dangerous side in the early going, neutralising Portugal's scrum playing the smarter rugby to retain possession for large periods.
Portugal took the early lead with a penalty from fullback Duarte Marques. Hong Kong fly-half Ben Rimene kicked a penalty in the 20th minute and added another in the 30th minute to give Hong Kong a 6-3 half-time lead.
Portugal brought on their big guns in the forwards for the second half and the hosts took some time to adjust to the physical test with massive prop Mike Tadjer causing havoc.
Duarte slotted a penalty to level the scores at 6-6 after 42 minutes.Hong Kong flanker Toby Fenn was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle in the 50th minute, but despite being a man down the locals rose to the occasion to defend well.
In the 63rd minute, replacement winger Robinson capped off multiple phase attacks to score the only try of the match. Niall Rowark's conversion was good and Hong Kong hung on to their 13-6 lead for the remaining 15 minutes.
"We thought they would be slightly more pragmatic but actually we were both playing very similar games in the first half," said Hong Kong coach Andy Hall.
"I was really pleased with the way we held out in the second half, particularly late, to come away with the win.
"We knew their first-half pack wasn't their strongest and that they would bring on the cavalry sooner or later. Our focus was on the set piece and it was nice to see the players handle that," said Hall."We said that a mini victory for us would be in how early Portugal brought their big guns on. So it was a bit of a tick for us at the start of the second half when they put their reserves on.
"After that we knew every scrum would be massive and full credit to the tight five in particular for handling that pressure well," added Hall.
Russia climbed to the top of the table after their bonus-point win over Zimbabwe, level with Hong Kong on nine points but with a superior points difference.
Portugal collected their first point of the tournament, picking up a bonus point for a loss within seven while Zimbabwe are still hunting for their first win of the series.
Hong Kong will play Russia in the deciding match of the Cup of Nations on Saturday at Hong Kong Football Club, kick-off at 5pm. The early game between Portugal and Zimbabwe will be for third place.