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Asia Rugby Sevens Series

Mixed fortunes for Hong Kong’s junior teams on first day of regional sevens series opener in Malaysia

U20 women power through to Cup semis while two-year reign as regional champions comes to a grinding halt for Hong Kong men

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 8:40pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 2:33am

Hong Kong’s U20 women’s sevens team advanced to the Cup semi-finals of the opening round of the two-tournament Asia Rugby U20 Sevens Series in Malaysia on Saturday, but the men’s team were dumped into the Plate competition as they failed to defend their regional crown.

The women opened their campaign strongly with 38-0 and 27-0 victories over Singapore and Malaysia in a four-team competition that also features Thailand.

Hong Kong, though, lost their final encounter of the day 24-12 to the Thais to finish the round robin stage in second place.

That means Hong Kong, who finished second behind Japan in last year’s regional series, will face hosts Malaysia in Sunday morning's semis, while Thailand take on Singapore.

“We had two really good wins today and only lost to a strong Thailand team after having one of the girls sent to the sin-bin in the second half,” said coach Sam Feausi. “After we went a player down, we fell off our defence a bit and paid for it.

“This Thailand team are technically very good and also very nippy, but we came away from the match knowing that they are beatable and that if we stick to our structures and keep up our defensive standard for 14 minutes we can beat them.”

The men, though, saw their two-year spell as champions ended after failing to advance to the Cup competition from the opening rounds of pool play.

Fielding a team with relatively few specialist sevens players, Hong Kong lost 10-19 to South Korea before rebounding with a 31-10 win over Singapore.

Asia Rugby U20 Sevens Series 2016 fixtures & results

Those early results set-up a final match on day one against hosts Malaysia, who had earlier beaten the Koreans 26-12 and Taiwan 19-14.

But Malaysia delighted the home crowd with a convincing 26-17 win over Hong Kong to join South Korea in advancing to the Cup semis.

Hong Kong will face-off against Taiwan on Sunday morning, but a win will leave them still trailing South Korea or Malaysia in the standings which will almost certainly send Fan Shun-kei's side into the Plate semi-finals.

“Basically we just couldn’t execute anything and we conceded too much possession with too many unforced individual errors,” said Fan.

Hong Kong’s future stars aim high in opening round of Asia Rugby U20 Sevens Series

“We should have beaten Korea but we just couldn’t execute. Even in the win over Singapore we started poorly before bouncing back in the second half. Against Malaysia we just gave up too much possession off of our own mental errors,” he said.

Malaysia is the first of two legs in the 2016 Asia Rugby U20 Sevens Series for the region’s top age-grade sevens talent with Hong Kong hosting the finale on 12-13 August.