Olympic sevens dream all-but over after Hong Kong women get off to sluggish start in Tokyo
Losses to Kazakhstan and Japan leave women’s seven needing miracle upsets on day two of Asian qualifier
Hong Kong’s women’s sevens side got off to a slow start and never recovered in Tokyo on Saturday in the final leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier for the Olympics.
Crucial pool losses to Japan (27-5) and Kazakhstan (29-5) mean the Cup final and 2016 Rio Olympics are beyond Hong Kong’s reach barring an upset or two in Sunday’s final pool games when the top two teams face the bottom two, Sri Lanka and Guam.
Japan and Kazakhstan, the winners and runners-up in the opening leg of the women’s Olympic qualifier held in Hong Kong, emerged undefeated on day one. They will meet in the final pool game Sunday before the afternoon finals begin.
Sluggish starts were the problem for Hong Kong and the trend started in their opening match when Guam dominated possession and territory for most of the opening period.Late first half tries from captain Christy Cheng Ka-chi and vice-captain Natasha Olson-Thorne righted the ship and set a platform for Hong Kong to dominate the second period when Aggie Poon Pak-yan, Stephanie Cuvelier, Amelie Seure and Chong Ka-yan all got over the line.
Poon added three conversions and another from Lai Pou-fan took the final scoreline to 38-0.
Another leisurely start proved lethal against Kazakhstan who mounted their finest performance of the season with a 29-5 win. With size and pace across the side, the Lady Nomads suffocated Hong Kong’s attempts to break out of defence and three tries put them 19-0 up going into the break.
Kazakhstan maintained the pressure in the second half, scoring twice soon after the break, but they were most impressive in the defence of their lead as Hong Kong mounted a fightback and managed a consolation try on the hooter from Amelie Seure.
After conceding an early try to Japan in their final day one pool game, Hong Kong delivered their best rugby with Poon scoring in the corner to level at 5-5.
Japan’s second try came from a well-worked move at the base of a scrum that outfoxed the Hong Kong defence, putting Mifuyu Koide over unchallenged, and Hong Kong conceded a third try late in the half when they were outnumbered with a player down injured.
The Sakura Sevens were superb in defence in the second half keeping Hong Kong off the board while adding two more tries to win convincingly.
China also struggled on day one, dropping their opening match to Japan 20-7 before losing to Kazakhstan 14-0.