Late Ben Rimene try gives Hong Kong victory over South Korea in Asia Rugby Championship
Leigh Jones’ side hold off strong fightback from the hosts in Incheon for a 34-27 win having led by 12 points during the second half
Hong Kong got the points against South Korea in Incheon on Saturday but didn’t do enough to suggest genuinely challenging Japan is likely to happen any time soon, according to coach Leigh Jones.
That is the stark reality after Hong Kong gave up a 12-point lead in the second half and required a brilliant Ben Rimene try in the final minutes to secure a 34-27 victory.
The match itself was entertaining throughout but featured constant errors, with Hong Kong’s scrum-work again not up to the standard Jones expects.
“It’s technical issues, but if I’m significantly stronger than you, then I’m going to win that scrummage battle,” Jones said. “We need to look at improving our technique to compensate for the power deficiency.”
On the positive side, the Hong Kong players proved they are quick learners and Jones will use the coming week off to put further work into his side’s deficiencies.
“Unless we get consistency across the board in our set piece, we’re always going to hop, skip and jump our way to those types of victories,” he said.
“Our set piece, when I say set piece I’m talking specifically about our scrum, I thought our lineout improved significantly. No team in the world, at test level, can play unless their set piece is fairly solid, so that’s going to be the focus over the next two weeks.”
The win was crucial for Hong Kong and required all the guts and determination they could muster after two South Korea tries levelled the scores late on.
Rimene’s winner was stunning, with the fly half chipping the ball to his own advantage before running on to to it to score.
Second-gamer Ryan Meacheam showed he is already starting to feel comfortable in the Hong Kong line-up, penetrating the South Korea defence time after time and creating chances for teammates.
Jones took plenty away from the game and was pleased his charges were able to grind out a win.
“There’s lots of good stuff,” Jones said. “Tactically, technically we were quite smart in how we played the game, but that was evident against Japan last week, strangely enough.
“I was actually, overall, pleased with our defence, we looked in good shape. Coming back to our scrum, you don’t see many teams winning games when their scrum is under such pressure.”
The bigger-bodied South Koreans looked gone in the second half after a yellow card to Kim Jin-hyeok reduced them to 14 men and their players started to tire, but tries to Lee Jae-bok and Na Kwan-young dragged them back into the contest.
“You just can’t switch off against Korea, they’re a good side,” Jones said. “They take their chances.”
Fullback Alex McQueen scored Hong Kong’s first two tries and Jamie Hood also crossed, while fly half Rimene was deadly accurate all day and finished with 19 points.
Lee finished with two tries and Kim Sung-soo also scored for South Korea, who will be hoping for an improved performance next Saturday against Japan after an 85-point loss in their last meeting.