Heartbreak for Hong Kong women’s team in Sevens Series Qualifier

Anna Richards’ charges win their last pool game against Belgium but it isn’t enough as they are bundled out of the tournament at So Kon Po

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 8:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 10:50pm

Hong Kong’s late heroics turned into heartbreak as they were bundled out of the World Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier at So Kon Po on Thursday.

Victory over a previously rampant Belgium in their last pool game had seen coach Anna Richards and her support crew crowded around a stat sheet trying to work out the permutations, with hopes lifted that the locals might have snuck through to the quarter-finals with that 15-10 win.

The last hope was that Hong Kong had finished as the second-best third-placed team after pool play but China’s earlier 68-0 win over Jamaica put paid to that and – again - Richards was left to ponder what might have been.

“We missed out on point differential and that’s disappointing,” she said. “The Kenya game really cost us.”

Hong Kong had started the day racing to 14-0 lead against the Africans but were cruelled by the day’s standout Sinaida Omondi, whose hat-trick of tries lifted her side to a 24-21 win.

A 17-7 loss to Argentina had pretty much sealed Hong Kong’s fate before they found form in stunning style against the Belgians, again using width and pace early with Aggie Poon Pak-yan turning on the speed for two tries.

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“I thought we got a great start against Kenya. I thought we played really well but just made a couple of errors in defence,” said Richards. “That really cost us. We still let Belgium in during that second half. We’ve just got to get better at maintaining that intensity for the whole 14 minutes.”

There’s an obvious rise in the standard of the women’s tournament this year, what with a place in next season’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series on the line.

Japan, in particular, were unbeaten by the end of the day, and impressive throughout, and along with Kenya they showed the benefits of having played as guest teams in rounds of this year’s world series.

“People think that it’s just a qualifier but people have seen today there are some quality teams here,” said Richards. “You make one mistake and it’s going to cost you. We beat Belgium and they were top of the pool but we just don’t maintain our consistency and when you can’t do that you’re always going to struggle.”

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The women’s event continues at So Ko Pon on Friday morning with the quarter-finals that see South Africa play Papua New Guinea, Belgium face the Netherlands, Italy play the Kenyans and Japan renew acquaintances with China after the tournament favourites had to grind their way past them 21-14 in pool play.

The semi-finals and final of the event will be played Friday evening at the Hong Kong Stadium.