Olympic dream over for Hong Kong women’s rugby team
Anna Richards’ side lose vital pool game in last minute
Hong Kong’s Olympic dream came to an abrupt end in Dublin on Saturday, with the fourth seeds suffering a heart-breaking 17-15 defeat to Argentina in their final pool match.
Hong Kong led 15-10 in the dying stages of the must-win encounter before Argentina’s Isabel Fontanarrosa broke free to score a brilliant try in the last minute.
Coach Anna Richards is determined to get something out of the second day’s play – which sees Hong Kong battle it our for ninth spot – before assessing what the early exit means for the progress of her side.
“We want to win the bottom half of the draw now given we didn’t make the quarter-finals,” she said.
“We thought we were a realistic chance to make the quarter-finals, but things didn’t really go our way today unfortunately.”
Two tries to Chong Ka-yan and one to Aggie Poon Pak-yan were not enough to get Hong Kong over the line against Argentina and, while they battled hard, they lacked polish.
They struggled with their ball handling and made constant errors throughout the day, which also saw them fall 21-12 to Kazakhstan and draw 12-12 with Cook Islands.
“We looked a little rusty against the Cook Islands and just a little tentative at stages,” Richards said.
“The Kazakhstan game, definitely that first five minutes we were our own worst enemy and we basically gifted them two tries.”
Hong Kong missed an opportunity to get off to the perfect start in their first game, twice leading by five points and missing chances in their draw with the Cook Islands.
Poon and Natasha Olson-Thorne ran in tries in the first half and Hong Kong looked to be on their way to victory, but were unable to shake their persistent opponent.
They were left at the gates in their second game by a sharp Kazakhstan side and found themselves down 14-0 before half-time.
Nam Ka-man pulled the margin back to nine in the shadows of the break but it was to no avail, with Kazakhstan pushing further ahead in the second-half.
Candy Cheng Tsz-ting scored a late consolation try.
The day wasn’t all bad for Richards, despite her side ultimately failing to live up to expectations in the tournament.
“We showed in that last 10 minutes against Kazakhstan that we can play some good rugby,” she said.
“We played very well.”
Hong Kong face Zimbabwe in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, while China secured a spot in the main quarter-finals to keep their Olympic hopes alive.
HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series core teams Spain, Russia and Ireland all looked impressive on day one and will enter day two confident of going all the way.