The champagne, or maybe in this case the cola, is on ice. Hong Kong's Under-19 World Cup dream was put on hold yesterday thanks to Thailand who upset all the great expectations - of the SAR schoolboys qualifying for the first time for the World Cup - with a shock win over Taiwan. Hong Kong kept their unbeaten record at the Asian Under-19 Championship intact by defeating Singapore 18-7 at Happy Valley. But they had to press the pause button on their much-awaited celebrations as a result of Thailand scoring a totally unexpected 16-7 win over Taiwan in the other preliminary pool game. Thailand's win has kept open the race for the last spot given to Asia for April's IRB/FIRA Under-19 World Championship in France. Japan, Korea and Taiwan had already qualified even before this tournament kicked off. The last spot was expected to go to Hong Kong if they defeated Singapore. But now Thailand have put themselves in contention too. 'We are a step closer. It is disappointing that we could not settle the qualifying issue today. We will be ready come Sunday. But we are taking it one game at a time and first we want to give Japan a run for their money and show everyone that Hong Kong can play rugby,' said skipper Jamie Bouloux. The giant lock-forward, who played a key role in yesterday's triumph, was pumped up after his team's stirring two-try victory over Singapore. It did not matter to him, or indeed the rest of his teammates, that they would have to wait until Sunday to decide their tickets to France. What mattered was winning. And it was sweeter as it kept the momentum going after two previous wins over Sri Lanka and China. Once again the platform for victory was laid by Hong Kong's huge forwards. Ryan McBride, who featured at No 8 in the previous two games, was moved into the second row and gave another superb display in the lineout and loose. His position at the back of the scrum was taken by Justin Leenders, who led a robust performance of the back row that also comprised flankers Ben Ho Tsz-chun and William Davies. The front row of Jacky Fong Kai-wai, Cho Jun Seok and Robert West played their hearts out in a solid scrum. Two opportunist tries, one in each half, gave Hong Kong a well-deserved victory. Feisty scrumhalf Fan Shun-kei drew first blood when he was quick to pounce on the ball after Singapore had failed to control their own scrum-ball metres from their goalline. The try scored under the posts was converted by winger Rowan Turner, who also knocked over a penalty to give Hong Kong a 10-0 lead at the break. The home team sealed victory early in the second half when they turned a sustained period of pressure on the Singapore goalline into points when Bouloux charged down a poor clearance kick and fell on the loose ball inside the in-goal area. Turner missed the conversion, but made amends a couple of minutes later with a successful penalty to put Hong Kong well in sight of victory. Singapore struck a late consolation blow when fullback Steedon Jessup finished off an orthodox move by the backs and scrambled over for a try which was converted by Valmiki Nair. The final whistle should have heralded celebrations. But unfortunately for the home team, they will have to wait until Sunday when they should come up against Thailand in the Plate final. That is if everything goes according to the form book. Hong Kong meet Japan tomorrow in their last pool match. Japan, who have looked imperious in crushing Singapore and China, both by margins in excess of 50 points, should win easily even though Bouloux maintains a spirited belief that Hong Kong can push the Asian powerhouses. In the other pool, Korea and Taiwan were seeded to finish first and second respectively. Korea will do so and will meet Japan in the Cup final on Sunday at the Hong Kong Football Club. The Thais were helped a great deal yesterday by the fact that Taiwan were down to 14 players for most of the match after their tighthead prop was red-carded for punching a Thai opponent in the 20th minute of the first half. Thailand meet Malaysia tomorrow and are expected to win. If it was a perfect world, both Hong Kong and Thailand would be going to the World Cup in France, whatever the outcome on Sunday, as they both would either occupy the third or fourth spots after this tournament ends. But it had been pre-ordained by the IRB that the last World Cup seedings be taken into account thus resulting in Japan, Korea and Taiwan already qualifying. 'I don't understand how three teams can pre-qualify especially in an Under 19 tournament where players change from year to year,' said Hong Kong head coach Terry Hart. 'But it will set everything up nicely for Sunday.' Cola or champagne? Hong Kong will not mind. As long as they are able to taste victory.