Asian U19s hat-trick fires Hong Kong juniors into 2016 World U20s Trophy
Dominant tourists crush Singapore 61-10 to cap a perfect week
Hong Kong’s junior 15s squad capped winning a third straight Asian U19s title with a nine-try 61-10 romp over hosts Singapore on Saturday.
Another perfect run in the week-long Asia Rugby U19 Championship – including a 78-12 hammering of Taiwan and victory over Sri Lanka 24-13 – secured Hong Kong’s place as the regional representative at next year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy in Zimbabwe.
The home side defended bravely in the early going at Yio Chu Kang Stadium, restricting the visitors to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with Matt Worley running in from 40 metres to score the opening try.
Fly-half Hugo Stiles slotted it over from out wide as he quickly found his rhythm, ending the day on 16 points from eight of nine conversions to top the tournament statistics with 50 points from 21 two-pointers, a penalty and a try.
He missed only two conversion attempts and one penalty over the three matches.With the flood-gates opened Hong Kong ran in three quick tries, including two from number eight Cris Calanza, to go into half-time 28-3 ahead.
Hong Kong’s forwards, who had been a huge factor in the first two victories, were once again outstanding in support and Cris Calanza’s first-half brace was the result of an impressive team effort.
The number eight’s second capped a phase in which Hong Kong strung together six passes before recycling the ball from a ruck on the Singapore try-line and swinging it through four more sets of hands to put Calanza over untouched.
Pierce Mackinlay-West also scored twice, as did Ron Siew whose opening effort came from a crashing 20-metre charge exemplifying the burly centre’s dogged play throughout the week as his hammer-and-silk pairing with Worley proved to be the lynchpin in Hong Kong’s attack.
Pressure from front-rowers Ben Schats, Thomas Gibb and Callum McFeat-Smith set the tone for a renewed second-half assault as the Hong Kong pack destroyed a Singapore scrum in the first set-piece after the restart.The home team’s resistance faded rapidly from there with Hong Kong scoring five more tries – including three in the first 15 minutes of the second period as Siew completed his brace, followed by one from scrum-half James Christie and the first for flanker Mackinlay-West.
A fourth try from winger Mark Coebergh was followed by Mackinlay-West’s second to complete the rout and ensure the Asian U19s silverware remains in the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s trophy case for another year.
Sri Lanka finished runners-up once again after they beat third-placed Taiwan 47-12 earlier in the day. Newly promoted hosts Singapore finished fourth.
Hong Kong will now compete in the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Harare from 19 April to 1 May next year, together with Samoa, Namibia, Spain, Uruguay, Fiji and hosts Zimbabwe in an eight-team tournament.
North America’s representative in Zimbabwe will be the winners of a one-off match between Canada and the United States in Austin, Texas on 13 February.