Final Olympic challenge proves too much for Hong Kong women against powerful Cook Islands
Hong Kong fell just short of fulfilling coach Anna Richards’ promise of securing ninth position on day two of the women’s Olympic repêchage in Dublin on Sunday, going down to Cook Islands 17-12 in the Challenge Trophy final.
Things were looking good for Hong Kong after they dispatched Zimbabwe (20-0) and Venezuela (24-5) to book a spot in the final, but Cook Islands proved too strong in the second meeting between the sides over the weekend.
Their clash in the pools on Saturday had ended in a 12-12 draw.
Aggie Poon Pak-yan continued her strong form in the ninth-place play-off to score all of Hong Kong’s points with two tries and a conversion.
WATCH: Day two highlights from the women’s Olympic repêchage in Dublin:
Poon’s second gave Hong Kong a 12-10 lead soon after the half-time break, but a defensive lapse allowed the islanders to cross over for a converted try which closed out the scoring and left Hong Kong 10th overall.
In the Olympic race, Spain’s women matched their men and booked the last Rio 2016 spot with a relatively convincing 19-12 win over Russia in the Championship Trophy final.
Ireland defeated Kazakhstan 17-5 to finish third, while China put the disappointment of missing out on Rio to defeat Argentina 33-0 and secure fifth place overall.
After dropping out of the race to Rio due to a winless first day – the Cook Islands draw was followed by losses against Kazakhstan (21-12) and Argentina (17-15) – Hong Kong played with the purpose of a side determined to take something out of the tournament on Sunday.
They were dominant against Zimbabwe, putting them to the sword in a convincing 20-0 win.
Amelie Seure was the star with three tries, although Poon’s wayward kicking cost Hong Kong a larger victory.
Richards’ charges went up another gear in their second match, brutally dismissing Venezuela 24-5 to book a spot in the Challenge Trophy final.
Seure scored again and vice-captain Natasha Olson-Thorne also cashed in, while Poon crossed twice and booted a conversion.
Earlier in the day, undefeated day one sides Spain, Russia, Ireland and Kazakhstan continued on their merry way – all winning their quarter-finals to nil.
Russia were too strong for Ireland in the semi-finals, winning 19-10, while Spain brushed aside Kazakhstan 28-0.
China were on the end of a brilliant display from Spain in the quarter-finals, going down 21-0 to bow out of the race for a spot in Rio.