WHAT a different kettle of fish Singapore are these days. No longer are they the minnows of Asian rugby as Hong Kong found out the hard way, the hosts struggling to a flattering 30-6 win in the Triangular Series at Aberdeen Stadium yesterday. The days when Singapore were nothing more than a quick appetising bite, chewed and spat out before the main course, are well and truly over. They have come on by leaps and bounds since that dark day in their rugby history when Hong Kong beat them by 164-13. It was not so long ago. The world record score was posted at the 1994 Asian Championships. On that day Hong Kong scored 26 tries. Yesterday they barely seemed able to sneak one past. So where does this leave Hong Kong, who for the better part of an hour yesterday played without any urgency or enterprise? If not for their tried and tested veterans, Paul Dingley and Roger Patterson (who played in 1994), Hong Kong could well have finished the game in a state of embarrassment. A victory for the home team was never in doubt. Rather it was the style in which they went about it. The first half was a total disaster with Hong Kong's backs failing to answer coach Phil Campbell's call for punch, power and pizzazz. 'I wanted the backs to carry the load and break the first line of defence,' said Campbell. His hope that the midfield would be creative was quickly dispelled by Singapore's resilient defence, which was tougher than expected. So plan A had to be abandoned at half-time with Hong Kong leading 12-6 thanks to four penalties from the boot of flyhalf Carl Murray. An injury to powerhouse centre Rodney McIntosh forced Campbell to adopt plan B in the second half - keeping the game with the forwards and using the rolling maul. But this approach only started to fire in the last quarter during which Hong Kong scored three tries to bring sighs of relief from a small crowd. The first two came from scrums inside the Singapore 22 with skipper and No 8 Dingley peeling off to power his way over the line. The third try resulted from another driving maul with second rower Patterson touching down. 'We had to revert to the forwards in the second half. It is a little bit disappointing that the backs were not hitting the line. But I'm happy with the tries we scored as we worked hard for that,' said Campbell. They certainly did that. Especially Dingley, who was doubtful of starting the match as he was suffering a blood infection. 'I did not want to play. But I took a couple of injections and decided to go for it. We started pretty slowly. It was just a matter of the guys not playing together for a long time,' said Dingley, trying to put a positive spin on the outcome. But even the most hardnosed fan of Hong Kong rugby will have to admit that the overall rating yesterday was in the one-star category. The fact that Singapore, yes Singapore, led Hong Kong at the end of the first quarter courtesy of two penalties from Terence Khoo, is cause for mortification. And sadly it was Singapore who showed more enterprise in a first half where the boot held sway. Thankfully for Hong Kong, Khoo missed a couple more easy kicks, which might have made the scoreline closer. 'The scoreline was not a true reflection of the game,' said Singapore coach Mark James. 'In the end experience counted. Ours is a young side and I'm happy with how they performed.'