'We're tired of finishing second,' says Barker
The word is out. Hong Kong's women rugby players are fed up with being tagged as the perennial sevens bridesmaids of the Asian scene. They want to go all the way up the altar and enjoy the bliss of winning a trophy.
'We are tired of finishing second every year. We want to win it next time,' said Hong Kong captain Toni Barker after the SAR were defeated 34-0 by Kazakhstan in the final of the Asian Championship, the sub-plot that was played within the confines of the Cable and Wireless Hong Kong Women's Sevens yesterday.
In the Hong Kong Women's Sevens, New Zealand defeated England 27-0 to retain their title. Kazakhstan also won the Plate competition, beating the United States 14-7.
Kazakhstan, a team mostly composed of players from the army, ran in six tries to emerge champions for the fourth successive year. This tournament is also four years old. And Hong Kong have met Kazakhstan in the final on all four occasions.
Yesterday they found the former state of the Soviet Republic too strong for their liking once again. With bigger players than the Hong Kong team - a brave but sadly lightweight Chinese contingent - the Kazakhs put their physical superiority and good ball skills and support play to good use.
Hooker Makhabbhat Tugambekova was the star of the show as she ran in a hat-trick of tries. Short and powerfully built, she also showed a talent of a Russian ballerina as she danced her way past Hong Kong defenders. She also created one of the brace scored by Svetlana Kluchnikova while the other try was scored by Valentina Nezbudey.
'The score was generous to them. It was a very physical game and I thought we could have scored on a couple of occasions,' said Tash McCarroll.
Barker added: 'The positive thing is that we keep meeting them in the final every year and the scoreline keep's going down. We showed today that we were not intimidated by their size. But in the end their better skills won the day. But we have a good unit going. I hope the nucleus of this team is around next year.'
Hong Kong also reached the Bowl final where they lost to Fiji 34-12. Hong Kong tries were scored by Fish Yu Suk-han and Cookie Tse while McCarroll knocked over a conversion.