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Asia Rugby Olympic Sevens Qualifier

Asia rugby sevens Olympics qualifier day 1 recap: Hong Kong win all three games, but Japan look unstoppable

Hong Kong's men won three out of three in their quest to win a place at the Olympics, but Japan look unstoppable after day 1

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 November, 2015, 10:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 November, 2015, 10:03pm

Hong Kong's men won three games out of three on day 1 of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier - the tournament that will determine which team from Asia goes to the Rio Olympics next summer as the sport makes its debut.

But favourites Japan look almost unstoppable, racking up an aggregate score of 151-0 in their three games.

Hong Kong's women won their first two games, but were comfortably beaten in the last by Japan.

WATCH: Coach Anna Richards and captain Christy Cheng share at the end of day 1

The men cruised past Iran (46-0) and Philippines (29-0), but were given a fright in the last game of the day at Hong Kong Stadium when Sri Lanka took a 12-0 lead. They fought back in the second half to win 27-12, however.

WATCH: Interview with coach Gareth Baber and captain Max Woodward after the Sri Lanka match

Tomorrow Hong Kong have their final group game against Malaysia, before entering the knockout stage, with another final against nemesis Japan looking on the cards. 

The event marked the first use of the new HK$100m pitch at Hong Kong Stadium - and it was difficult to see where the money went, as it immediately started tearing up badly.

Catch up with all the action below and tune in tomorrow for the climax.

 

 

READ MORE: Click here for all our Asia Rugby Sevens Olympics Qualifier coverage


CLICK HERE FOR DAY 1 RESULTS

 

Phew! That was a bit more difficult than Hong Kong would have liked, paying the price for an awful start. Second half they were superb though, and the perhaps 6000 in the crowd here made a great noise as they got behind them.

That's it for the day, thanks for tuning in - back manana.

 

FT: Hong Kong 27 Sri Lanka 12

27-12 TRY HONG KONG! More sustained possession - in fact Sri Lanka haven't had the ball all half - and as the hooter goes, HK spread it left from a ruck under the posts and Mark Wright has acres of space. And the first conversion for HK. 

20-12 TRY HONG KONG! Surely that's the winner. More patient build-up, spreading it left then back right, Chris Maize diving over in the corner. HK have made hard work of it in the first half, but great comeback

15-12 TRY HONG KONG! Finally, HK are ahead in this game. Camped in Sri Lanka's 22, eventually they get a penalty and work it wide to the left through some snappy passes, where Alex McQueen goes over

10-12 TRY HONG KONG! That's more like it. Straight into them from kickoff, and Hood makes the break with some brilliant quick feet and a surging run. Just as he looks to be running out of steam, Tom McQueen comes alongside in support to go voer in the corner.

 

HT: Hong Kong 5 Sri Lanka 12

5-12 TRY HONG KONG! Finally the pressure tells after umpteen last-ditch tackles from Sri LAnka on their line and Chris Maize bulls his way over the line. That's half-time

0-12 TRY SRI LANKA Oh dear oh dear. Another bit of sloppy play from HK and the rapid Danushka Ranjan Wijekoon-Mudiyanselage (yeah, you heard) speeds away through another non-tackle. 

0-7 TRY SRI LANKA Oh dear. Bad start from HK and Richard Dharmapala scores after slipping a weak attempted tackle from Jamie Hood. 

 

6.20pm 

38-10 win there for Philippines over Iran. Er ... that's all the detail I have for you. One more game left - HK v Sri Lanka

Here's the Hong Kong team to face Sri Lanka, the last game of the day: Max Woodward, Michael Coverdale, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Maize, Rowan Varty, James Hood, Yiu Kam-shing

 

Hong Kong women's coach Anna Richards on the day's action, where her team won their first two matches before losing to Japan:

"It's always good to beat China, not long ago they were beating us regularly.

"I said to the girls we were just a split second late against Japan, and that's in our control to fix. Japan are a quality side, you've got to be on top of your game to really challenge Japan.

"We've got a big game against Kazakhstan tomorrow and we need to win that."

Captain Christy Cheng on playing at Hong Kong Stadium for the first time:

"It feels awesome, in the tunnel we hear the announcer say 'Hong Kong' and it feels amazing, all the girls are so proud to play for Hong Kong. We were a bit unlucky against Japan but we're happy to get the first two wins."

FT Japan 47 South Korea 0

Some brave, painful-looking defending here from South Korea, but they're eventually breached again two and a half minutes in, Lemeki Lomana the scorer. A quick flash of passes then release Goto for his second, a beautiful falling-down one-handed offload from Tuqiri setting him up. Straight away, Japan add their third of the halfway, working it rapidly across the pitch to Chihito Matsui on the left. Great play. After the hooter goes there's still time for another, Yoshikazu Fujita picking the ball up from a ruck and deciding to steam under the posts himself

Very impressive win that for Japan. 151-0 is their aggregate score for three games - can anyone stop them? Can anyone even score against them? 

HT: Japan 14 South Korea 0

Good start from Korea, but with one of their players hobbling, Japan take advantage, Teruya Goto finding a gap and flying in from the halfway line. Then after continual pressure in Korea's 22, Japan eventually find the extra man, Lote Tuqiri scoring on the right.

 

540pm

Singapore just beat Taiwan in the battle of the also-rans, but now it's Japan v South Korea, Hong Kong's two main rivals. Let's hope for a rough and bruising encounter with several minor injuries

A tough defeat for Hong Kong that - second in ever department. Disappointing end to the day for our women

 

FT: Japan women 36 Hong Kong 0

2nd 1/2 -

36-0 TRY JAPAN Make them stop, we're already dead. Loose pass from HK duly punished with another fast-flowing move from Japan, Chiaharu Nakamura the scorer. 

31-0 TRY JAPAN HK Penalised for holding on in a ruck and Japan work it swiftly to the left where they have Keiko Kato on the overlap

26-0 Try Japan Marie Yamaguchi goes under the posts as Hong Kong give it away while in Japan's half and it's surely all over now.

--

Just got tougher for HK as Sam Wai-sum is sin-binned. They manage to keep it together though and actually play their best stuff. Big boos for Japan for apparent repeated infringements that the ref isn't calling. Long way back in the second half.

19-0 TRY JAPAN And another ... oh dear. Japan camped in HK's 5-metre, throw it around a bit before Okuroda scores again.

14-0 TRY JAPAN Too easy for Japan that, winning the ball on the ground and Ano Kuwai steaming through, handing off a HK defender on the way

7-0 TRY JAPAN How much did that painful-looking win against China's bruisers take out of Hong Kong? Japan take less than a minute to open the scoring, through Yume Okuroda. 

 

 

4.55

Back after a little break - Looked like a nasty injury to one of Sri Lanka's women during their win over Guam. Right now, it looks like China's women are heading for a second defeat, losing 17-12 to Kazakhstan. Still 1:42 for them to get it back

Update ... they didn't get it back, conceding another try. Here come Hong Kong for their final game of the day, against Japan

 

3.55pm

29-12 there for Malaysia against Iran. I'd be lying if I said I paid much - okay, any - attention to that mouthwatering tie, apologies to the many viewers in Tehran and KL. There's one man with a noisy trumpet cheering Iran, who is steadily getting more annoying as the day goes on. And least he only parps up for Iran games.

Some entertainment now in the shape of a ska band, before the women play their last games of the day from 1610. 

A solid win for HK, 75-0 on aggregate for their first two games, with six  five tries for Salom Yiu Kam-shing. Next up for HK are Sri Lanka at 1822 to end the first day's play.

Iran v Malaysia up now. Could be time for a tactical power nap

FT: HONG KONG 29 PHILIPPINES 0

29-0 TRY HK! Another try for Yiu, steaming over as the last man on the right wing again. 

24-0 TRY HK! Jamie Hood goes under the posts after some excellent patient build-up

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17-0 TRY HK! And that's Alex McQueen's first of the tournament, picking the ball up from a ruck 20 metres out and fending off a tackle to skip down the paint on the left touchline

12-0 TRY HK! Great score from Varty, running from his own half, somehow finding a narrow gap and slipping a tackle to score down the right. Hood with the extras

5-0 TRY HK! quick tap penalty in the middle from HK and they work it right to Yiu, who speeds down the touchline for his fourth try of the tournament. Excellent start

3.05pm

Another crushing win for Japan, demolishing Singapore 66-0. That's the biggest win of the tournament so far, 104-0 on aggregate to Japan in their first two games. Haven't broken sweat yet.

Here's the Hong Kong team to face Philippines: Mark Wright, Max Woodward, Alex McQueen, Chris Maize, Rowan Varty, Jamie Hood, Yiu Kam-shing

2.45pm

A crushing defeat for the mighty China against 'Chinese Taipei', 50-0. If the Xi Jinping Ma Ying-jeou summit just about to take place is as one-sided, Taiwan should be firmly back in the loving embrace of the motherland by this evening. We've got Japan-Singapore now, another walkover in store, before Hong Kong are back out, against the Philippines

China v Hong Kong (women)

FT 0-5

Great win for Hong Kong, hanging on in their own 22 for the start of that half, before almost putting the game away with a tremendous fast break from Poon. China then had a woman sin-binned, but surprisingly looked the better team with one less player and only a fumble prevented what looked a certain equaliser with second to go. 

HT 0-5

Entertaining match this. China's players are twice the size of their opponents, no stranger to a plate of jiaozi some of these. 

Some cracking tackling from Hong Kong, preventing several dangerous breaks, before Aggie Poon breaks the deadlock, sprinting in from 30 yards after being fed from a ruck. Great half from HK

 

2pm 

Another women's game, another mismatch, as Japan gub Sri Lanka 48-0. The women's tournament is rather ill conceived, it's over two legs so this weekend is only round 1. Hard to get excited. The big China - Hong Kong grudge match is up now though.

Meanwhile, important breaking news (from the programme) - one of Guam's players has missed the tournament having recently been crowned Miss World Guam. She's off to Sanya in Hainan soon for the Miss World International. After extensive research, here's a pic

1.40pm

Another battering for poor ol Guam in the women's tournament. They actually scored first, remarkably, but duly lost 45-7. I think. I looked away before the final whistle, Kazakhstan might have added another. (46-7 actually)

Some ominous grey clouds moving in, nice downpour would do the pitch wonders

1.15pm

'Half-time' here, six minions from the LCSD tramping around the pitch disconsolately trying to repair the worst of the damage. Turns out the LCSD were right, this pitch couldn't have hosted Hong Kong v China in the World Cup qualifier on November 17. Guess they recognised their own incompetence.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka beat Malaysia 24-10 in Hong Kong's group. They're the main rivals to HK in Pool B.

Next up it's the women again, Kazakhstan against the mighty Guam. At 1405 it's China v Hong Kong

Well, that was a resounding clattering. Iran clearly the whipping boys in this group. Good run-out for HK, with four players getting tries under their belts, two each for Capon and Varty and a hat-trick for Yiu. Next up it's the Philippines at 1511, and they should provide a stiffer test.

Right now, it's about time I got some disgusting Hong Kong Stadium fried food down my fat face

 

FT: Hong Kong 46 Iran 0

46-0 James Hood immediately adds another, speeding through in the right corner. Bit easy this

41-0 Varty gets his second, very similar to the last try with more good quick passing from HK setting him up for a jikn through on the right.

36-0 Some nice passing side to side from HK eventually leads to Michael Coverdale slipping in Yiu on the right for his hat trick.

31-0 HK take more than a minute to get back on the scoresheet, missing a couple of chances before Yiu lays off to Capon. This time he goes straight under the posts and the conversion is routine

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24-0 Jack Capon gets on the scoresheet, Hong Kong spreading it across the pitch to him on the left wing. Almost seemed tentative with the try line beckoning. Conversion doesn't even make it, he'll be embarrassed by that one

19-0 Another for Yiu, taking a quick tap penalty from Chris Maize right on the line. Misses the conversion this time. Iran are rubbish

12-0 Varty turns provider, sreading a nice miss-pass out to the right touchline, and Salom Yiu Kam-shing flies down the line. Good conversion. 

7-0 - Rowan Varty wastes no time in getting on the scoreseheet, breaking a tackle with typical quick feet and going under the posts. 

 

12.20

South Korea beat China 19-12, but it was far from convincing. Unlucky intercepted pass from China killed it before a late consolation. Some big ol bruisers in China's ranks. Hong Kong will hope these two smash up Japan in the pool stage.

Up now  it's Hong Kong's first game, against Iran - here's the team:

Capon, Woodward, Robertson, A MCQueen, Maize, Varty, Yiu

11.55

Japan have just given Taiwan - sorry 'Chinese Taipei' - a 38-0 thumping, predictably. I have to admit I wasn't paying close attention as I was too staggered by the state of this new HK$100 million pitch. There's holes big enough to bury bodies opening up. Dunno where that HK$100m went but keep an eye out for LCSD employees driving new Maseratis.

 

FT: Hong Kong women 36 Sri Lanka 5

A comfortable start for HK against a weak-looking Sri Lanka side. HK next up against China at 1405

Big cheers for HK's women - amazingly this is the first time they've played at HK Stadium.

36-5 Bah, Sri Lanka pull one back though Thanuja Dilrukshi. Comeback's on

36-0 TRY HONG KONG! No.4 for Aggie Poon, charging over from near halfway after good work from Lindsay Varty to set her up. An angry look seems to be enough to dissuade Sri Lanka from tackling.

31-0 TRY HONG KONG! Nam Ka-man steams over. Not much effort needed here from HK as they go in 31-0 at half-time

24-0 TRY HONG KONG! And that's the hat trick for Poon, strolling through unopposed from the bottom of a ruck. Sri Lanka haven't crossed the halfway line

17-0 TRY HONG KONG! Another for Aggie Poon as HK ramp up the pressure

12-0 TRY HONG KONG! Natasha Olsen-Thorne smashes through from close range and goes under the posts. 

5-0 TRY HONG KONG!  Sri Lanka fumble a pass and have to kick in touch - a quick throw from HK sees Aggie Poon burst down the right and go over to big cheers. 

 

11.10am

China beat Guam 54-0 - no easy games at this level. 

Here we go for the first bit of local action, HK women v Sri Lanka.

 

10.45am

First stirrings of excitement as Japan's women win their first game. But it was a very tight and nervous affair, 7-5 over Kazakhstan, who took the lead. 

Quite a few Japanese fans here - and tons of  Japanese reporters. Signs that the game is taking hold over there following the World Cup?

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong's group, Sri Lanka mullered Iran 31-10. Not much to learn from that one, apart from the fact that Iran aren't much cop.

Up now it's China - coached by Hong Kong Sevens leged Ben Gollings - v Guam, then Hong Kong v Sri Lanka in the women's tournament.

Here's a video with HK women's captain Christy Cheng Ka-chi done by my colleague Kevin Kung in the build-up:

WATCH: Hong Kong Women's Sevens captain Christy Cheng

10.15am

It's not exactly the Hong Kong Sevens atmosphere here at Hong Kong Stadium - so far there's only a smattering of fans dotted around the 40,000-seat venue. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect early on is the state of the new pitch - it took over six months and HK$100 million to be put in and is already tearing up badly. A bit of a joke, LCSD. 

In early games, China gubbed Singapore 22-0 and South Korea were 31-10 winners over Chinese Taipei in Pool A. In Hong Kong's group, Malaysia just beat the Philippines 15-10 in a close one and Sri Lanka are currently murdering Iran 19-0 after five minutes.

We don't see Hong Kong's men in action until 1222, when they take on Iran, though the women are up at 1112 against Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, catch up with all our build-up to the event by clicking here