Hong Kong Sevens

Punchless Hong Kong pay for lack of fight

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 March, 2009, 12:00am

The DJ played Kung Fu Fighting when Hong Kong were on the pitch. It failed to provide inspiration with all the fight being sucked out of a brave, but ultimately powerless Hong Kong squad as they tumbled to defeats at the hands of the physically imposing Kenya and Tunisia yesterday.

A 43-7 loss to Kenya followed by a narrow 17-14 defeat to Tunisia resulted in Hong Kong being relegated to the Bowl competition as the World Cup Sevens reaches its climax today. Hong Kong had been beaten 42-5 by England on the opening day.

The Tunisia game was targeted as the one to win. And at half-time it looked as if all the months of hard work and preparation would pay off as Hong Kong led 14-0 with a brace of tries by Keith Robertson, the first a lovely length-of-the-field effort after he picked up from the base of a scrum on his own lineout, sold a dummy and ran his heart out.

But then it all began to unravel immediately after the break as Tunisia powered their way to three tries, two from winger Amor Mezgar and the match-winning one, a minute from the end, from forward Khaled Zegden. It left Hong Kong's dream in tatters. The barren run of not winning a game in three World Cups is perilously close to being realised today if they are knocked out in the Bowl quarter-finals where they will face Italy.

Disappointed coach Rodney McIntosh was not available for comment.

Hong Kong had looked flat against Kenya. After beginning promisingly, with Rowan Varty crossing the line, they faded in the face of their opponents' power game as they ran in seven tries.

Kenya are big and fast. Every tackle was like crashing against a concrete pillar, almost always taking two of the smaller-built Hong Kong players to bring down one of their opponents, resulting in holes opening up in the defence.

On the few occasions the Kenyans were caught, they were difficult to bring down in the tackle, and the ball was easily off-loaded to the support.

Starved of possession, Hong Kong were faced with a mountain to climb, and left with the unappetising task of trying to stop the waves of attacks.

Hong Kong trailed 17-7 at the break. Still within touching distance, but unfortunately with no ball, there was no comeback. To make matters worse, forward Mark Wright limped off nursing a shoulder injury and Hong Kong were down to six men. They couldn't bring anyone on at this stage because they had used up all their three substitutes.

'We had a very good start but in the second half we didn't have any possession at all,' said assistant coach Alex Gibbs.

'We had a game plan but we couldn't execute it without the ball. We haven't played anywhere near our potential.'