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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Aggie Poon stakes claim to World Cup ticket as Hong Kong show ‘significant improvement’ in Spain loss

Coach Jo Hull is confident the touring squad will return home ready to drive standards after fighting 41-18 defeat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 10:16pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 June, 2017, 12:03am

Hong Kong may have gone down 41-18 to Spain on Saturday night, but coach Jo Hull is confident the touring squad will return home ready to drive standards ahead of August’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Hong Kong travelled with 26 players but left a number at home, with Hull issuing a challenge to those who didn’t play after her side delivered a fighting second-half performance against Spain.

“We said to the girls that this group has to show significant improvement so that by the time we get back to Hong Kong, they need to have left the other players behind,” she said.

“The girls we didn’t take on this tour, the message to them is they better catch up quickly.”

Hong Kong delivered a far better account of themselves this time around after 59-12 and 57-0 losses the last time they were in Spain 18 months ago, with Saturday’s test result following a 19-8 loss in a warm-up game.

The next step is two matches against Japan in July and Hull feels the depth of her squad is building.

“The fact we have got five new caps out of this tour is huge and it shows what we are trying to do with the squad in terms of extending it,” Hull said.

“The biggest thing we have got out of this tour is that we are trying to play at a higher level and intensity and I’m pleased to say that I think there are periods of the game that we did.”

Winger Aggie Poon Pak-yan starred for Hong Kong in Valladolid on Saturday, running in two tries on her way to scoring all 18 of her side’s points to stake her claim for a World Cup spot after missing out on the qualifying games in December.

“Aggie played really well today,” Hull said. “She is a great player but at that time [in December] we felt she wasn’t performing.

“She has worked really hard and has shown that she brings an asset to this team both in attack and defence.

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“My challenge now to all the players is that they have to maintain that and be consistent and keep getting better. The minute they take a step back, someone else is having that position.”

Hong Kong started slowly on and found themselves down 22-3 at the half against a far more experienced Spain side than the one that turned out on Tuesday.

However, they took it to their opponents after the break, with back rower Cheng Ching-to and fullback Colleen Tjosvold prominent.

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“Our kicking accuracy still wasn’t good enough today and if you kick like that against good teams they are going to punish you, however it was an improvement [from game one].

“Our accuracy in terms of our attack was a little bit better, there were less handling errors and unforced errors.”