HK bounce back after dismal start
HONGKONG revived their World Cup Sevens hopes with a thrilling 19-17 victory over Namibia after being crushed 40-5 by England in their opening match at Murrayfield yesterday.
Stuart Krohn was the Hongkong hero with a hat-trick of tries, his last two coming after the territory had trailed 7-17 with three minutes left.
Most of the big guns fired impressive opening salvoes, with favourites Fiji, newly-crowned Hongkong Sevens champions Western Samoa, New Zealand and South Africa all recording comfortable victories.
But the biggest shock came when Australia, semi-finalists in the Hongkong Sevens, were beaten 10-7 by Pool C opponents Tonga, the Plate winners in Hongkong last month.
Australia, who had earlier beaten Taiwan 28-0, need to win all their matches today to make sure of qualifying for the main Cup competition.
France are facing elimination from the Cup after Ireland beat them in a crucial Pool B encounter 17-7.
Hongkong, battered by top seeds England in their Pool D opener, looked to be heading for further disappointment against Namibia until Krohn's last-gasp heroics.
The burly American's interception try pumped new life into the Hongkong side and Craig Pain's quick free-kick in the dying seconds saw David Bulbeck and Krohn combine for the latter to score in the corner.
Krohn had given Hongkong the lead in the first half, pouncing on a poor clearance as the territory went 7-5 ahead.
The victory avenged two defeats to Namibia during the qualifying tournament in Sicily last year.
Skipper Pain said: ''It was great to get a win, especially after what happened in Hongkong which made us all pretty low.
''We had a bit of luck but there is a lot of spirit in the team and we are looking forward to our next matches.'' Earlier, England captain Andrew Harriman had exposed glaring weaknesses in the territory's defence, scoring two quick tries.
The powerful Damien Hopley added two more and further scores from Matthew Dawson and Lawrence Dallaglio, plus a string of conversions by Nick Beal, showed the gulf between the two sides.
Hongkong's only reply came from Bulbeck.
The territory and England will both face Western Samoa today, the Hongkong champions have rolled to victories over Spain, 47-0, and Canada, 28-14.
The Australians, who rested a slightly-injured Michael Lynagh against Tonga, have a major concern over Grant Lodge, who suffered a hip injury in training, leaving coach Bob Dwyer unsure if he will take any further part in the tournament.
Australia's chances were improved by the shock 14-10 defeat of group rivals Scotland by Argentina.
Fiji, with Waisale Serevi in superb form, hammered Latvia 42-0 in their Pool A opener and followed up with a 28-17 win over Japan, which saw them relax in the second half, and a comprehensive 40-0 success over Romania.
Pool A rivals South Africa looked a different side to the one knocked out in the quarter-finals in Hongkong, completing a 36-14 demolition of Wales and also beating Japan 28-5 and Latvia 45-7.