Hong Kong’s World Series dream crushed by ‘smarter’ Italians
Hong Kong’s hopes of playing at the highest level in sevens were crushed after a demoralising 12-0 defeat to Italy in the semi-final of HSBC Sevens World Series qualifier on Sunday.
The Italians were a much different proposition compared to the team Hong Kong easily beat 19-0 during the pool stages.
“Hong Kong played well against us in the pool game and deserved to win that. Today we were able to stick to our game plan better,” Italy coach Andy Vilk said.
“We never played to our full potential in the first game with Hong Kong. We had 11 penalties against us, which was completely our fault. We were also probably a bit nervous as it was a game against one of the favourites.
“Today we dealt with the pressure much better and deserved the win,” Vilk said.
In what proved to be a turgid affair Hong Kong tried to force the pace, but ferocious defending by the Italians kept them at bay.
After soaking up the pressure, tries either side of half time by Fabrizio Sepe and a conversion by Steven Bortolussi saw off the Hong Kong challenge.
It was a tough loss to take for the home side.
“We’re very disappointed, but we were beaten by the better side. Over the 14 minutes they always had the edge,” Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber said.
“We just weren’t as smart and sharp as they were in the key areas. They were more aggressive than us – we didn’t show enough fight. The bottom line is that we didn’t play up to our normal standard.”
Italy move on to the qualifier competition final against favourites Japan.