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Asia Rugby Sevens Series

‘No magic recipe’ for improvement as Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber shifts focus to world series

Hong Kong men win the Asia Rugby Sevens Series with 24-19 victory over South Korea in the final of the third leg in Sri Lanka

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 10:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 11:11pm

With a spot in the world series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong in April next year locked away, Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber has now turned his focus to ensuring his side is prepared to go one better in 2017.

Hong Kong, who took out the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Sri Lanka on Sunday, lost the final of this year’s qualifying tournament 24-14 to Japan and Baber knows plenty of improvement is required in the coming months.

“There is no magic recipe,” Baber said.

“It’s about gradual improvement and generating the learning within the players and surrounding them with a good environment and giving them the opportunity to develop. We have just got to keep working as coaches and players to develop our squad and put a game together that can match the rest of the world when it comes to trying to get on to a world series.”

Hong Kong secured their second sevens series win in three years with yet another impressive tournament.

A tough two days culminated in a hard-earned 24-19 win over South Korea in the final to seal their third consecutive round win.

Ben Rimene led the way for Hong Kong after they slipped behind 7-0, scoring two tries and two conversions to ensure his side a 14-7 half-time lead.

Jason Jeyam showed he has a big future in a tense second half, crossing once and releasing Chris Maize for the winning try on the final play.

“He’s got a great skill level, he moves quickly and he steps well,” Baber said of Jeyam.

“We must be doing something right because we keep finding ways of winning and that showed today, especially in a tight final again against a team we battled against last night.”

The series win also earned Hong Kong a place in the main draw of the 2017 Singapore Sevens and the exposure against elite-level opposition they crave.

Earlier, Hong Kong were forced to work back from a seven-point deficit in their semi-final against Sri Lanka, with captain Max Woodward the catalyst behind the 19-7 win with two tries.

Salom Yiu Kam-shing also scored in a game in which the scores where tied at the break.

WATCH: Asia Rugby Sevens Series 2016 highlights

Hong Kong’s women, though, had no answers against a Japan side that went on to win the tournament and the series, falling 14-0 to complete a trio of semi-final exits.

Anna Richards’ side did show plenty of fight, but couldn’t stop their opponents finding the line in both halves.

“I thought we actually played well in the game,” Richards said.

“Especially the first half we controlled the ball for probably about the first five or six minutes but we just couldn’t quite get over the line. I was pretty pleased with how we played.”

Hong Kong finished third overall but failed to finish the series on a high, going down to Thailand 19-5 in the third-placed play-off with Christy Cheng Ka-chi crossing.

Hong Kong recover from Malaysia loss to close in on Asia Rugby Sevens Series title

“Honestly we were aiming to try and make top two in the series and we wanted to take a step up from last year,” Richards said.

“I’m happy pretty much overall with this tournament apart from the last game, I thought we let ourselves down a little bit. We failed to control the ball and be consistent but in saying that, Thailand have shown this weekend that they are playing well.”