Hong Kong recover from Malaysia loss to close in on Asia Rugby Sevens Series title
Gareth Baber’s side come back from a 19-14 defeat to beat South Korea 26-15 and must now overcome hosts Sri Lanka in the semis to secure overall title
A victory in tomorrow’s semi-final against home side Sri Lanka will be enough for Hong Kong to secure the Asia Rugby Sevens Series after they experienced an up and down opening day in the final tournament.
After a shock 19-14 loss to Malaysia, Hong Kong regained their momentum with a 26-15 victory over South Korea and Gareth Baber now has overall victory in his sights.
“They [Sri Lanka] will be tough in Sri Lanka,” Baber said. “It will make for a good spectacle I’m sure, but we will go into the match with some confidence after beating Korea and beating Sri Lanka a few times on the series.”
Rowan Varty and Cado Lee Ka-to got their side moving against South Korea with first-half tries and Lee Jones and Ryan Meacham kept the scoreboard ticking over in a much-needed win.
Although it looked like a healthy points difference would be enough for Hong Kong to progress to the semis regardless of the South Korea result, the win ensures Baber’s side hunt their third consecutive round win in top form.
“It was a very important win to get us to the semi-final and we can take something from that going into tomorrow,” he said.
“We have had it our way in the last few tournaments but the benefit of being put under pressure today is the response that you get from the players. The chance to put them under that kind of pressure is what we want from this series and all of the games we play.”
Earlier, Hong Kong took care of Japan 31-12 thanks to the usual suspects again hitting the scoreboard, with Jones crossing twice and Meacheam, Ben Rimene and Chris Maize also scoring.
The five-point loss to Malaysia saw tries to stalwart Varty and debutant Jason Jeyam.
Hong Kong’s women will head into their semi-final against Japan full of confidence after an undefeated opening day capped by an impressive 19-12 win over a new-look China.
“It was a different China team but again I was happy with our composure,” Hong Kong coach Anna Richards said.
“We know what Japan are like and we will need to do what we did against China. Control what we can control, keep our composure and work hard on defence.”
Adrienne Garvey, Natasha Olson-Thorne and Lindsay Varty all registered tries on the back of precise passing and fluent movement from Hong Kong.
Richards’ side started pool play with a strong 17-12 win over Sri Lanka – with Garvey, Nam Ka-man and Chong Ka-yan all scoring – before blitzing Singapore 26-0 on the back of a dominant three-try performance from Olson-Thorne.