Rugby World Cup
Contested once every four years since 1987, the RWC involves the top 20 national teams battling for the famed Webb Ellis Cup. New Zealand are the current holders, while England (2015) and Japan (2019) have been awarded hosting rights for the next two tournaments.
HK backs enjoy field day in romp over Singapore
Next Friday marks the 60th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Yesterday Singapore fell again, but it was not as calamitous as the debacle during World War II, for this time it was expected.
Singapore's surrender last night came at the hands of Hong Kong who, borne on the fleetness of their backs, ran in nine tries to breeze to an emphatic 57-8 victory in the one-off international at Happy Valley, a build-up to the RWC 2003 qualifiers.
Eight of the tries were scored by the backs with scrumhalf Rory Dickson and outside centre Warren Warner grabbing a brace each. Mark Solomon, Chris Gordon and Ricky Cheuk chipped in with a try each as did fly-half Carl Murray who ended a satisfying night with a personal tally of 17 points. The only back from the starting line-up to miss out on scoring was Chan Fuk-ping. But his absence from the feast was not of concern for the result was secured as early as the first quarter when Hong Kong led 24-3.
'This performance bodes well for the future. Our discipline and attitude was good. It has not been easy due to the disruptions with sevens. But the guys stuck to it and I'm pleased with the outcome,' said coach Terry Hart.
The only Hong Kong forward to get his name on the scoresheet was Adam Horler who burrowed over the line for the SAR's second try when the forwards worked their way over courtesy of a driving maul.
Horler's try was one of the rare occasions when the forwards kept the ball in hand. The order of the day was for quick phase ball which was then shipped out wide to the backs to do the needful. With Murray and Warner in fine fettle, this game plan worked to perfection.
With an abundance of possession, the Hong Kong backline dominated to a degree not seen for a long time. The best of the eight tries was Warner's second which resulted from a cleverly worked set-piece move. Hong Kong won a scrum on the halfway mark and four of their backs lined up on the short side. The Singaporean three-quarters duly moved over. The ball, when won, was held up by skipper and No.8 Paul Dingley and in the meantime, Murray and Warner switched to the open side of the scrum. Dingley, who had another big game in the loose, slung a pass to Murray who fed Warner and he had a clear run to the try-line with the opposition midfield desperately trying to recover from the Hong Kong gambit.
While the backs had a field day, the forwards had their hands full with Singapore willing to take them on up-front. One such encounter led to Singapore lock Steve Harper crashing over for his side's solitary try. Winning the ball from a lineout the Singaporean forwards rolled the maul successfully to beat Hong Kong at their own game.
So confident were they of taking on Hong Kong's pack, that they even opted to kick for a lineout, instead of putting over a penalty awarded to them a few minutes later. This confidence carried over to the second half when the Hong Kong line was under pressure late in the match.
Hart had every right to look pleased last night with the scoreline. But it would bode well to remember that history lesson - Singapore surrendered tamely in the end. Other opponents, like Hong Kong's World Cup poolists the Arabian Gulf, might not be such pacifists.