Varty and Robinson help HK home

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 September, 2006, 12:00am

Youngsters Rowan Varty and debutant Keith Robinson both made immediate impacts as second-half replacements to help Hong Kong score a comfortable 33-7 victory over Malaysia on the opening day at the Sri Lankan Sevens in Kandy yesterday.

A massive police presence at the Nittawela grounds did not faze the visiting sides from turning up the pace - and Hong Kong obliged, too, as they ran in five tries with winger Varty getting a double. Robinson, playing at flyhalf, also touched down while the other tries were scored by Jeff Wong and Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin.

'Both Rowan and Keith came on in the second half with us leading 12-7. We then upped the tempo and in the end won quite easily,' said Hong Kong rugby's head of performance Ivan Torpey. 'The guys were a bit nervous earlier on, but the fluency came back.'

The win saw Hong Kong book their berth in the Cup competition despite losing 35-7 to South Korea in their second group game. The top two teams from each of the four groups advance into the Cup quarter-finals today.

'We failed to take our chances against the Koreans,' said Torpey. Hong Kong trailed 14-7 at half-time with forward Ryan McBride scoring a try. But the Koreans turned on the heat in the second half to run out winners comfortably.

Hong Kong only decided at the last minute to take part in the two-day tournament. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union was worried about the security situation in Sri Lanka with fighting between government forces and the rebels.

'There is more of a police presence than in previous years and we are escorted everywhere we go,' said Torpey. 'But it is good that we came here and are playing rugby. The players are happy they came. It is useful as we can assess the form of the other Asian teams before December's Asian Games.'

Barring Japan, all the other top medal contenders in Doha turned out yesterday. South Korea, who thrashed Malaysia 63-0, looked the most impressive.