Battered and bruised: Tough first day for Hong Kong men and women at the Korea Sevens
Gareth Baber’s men must contend with injuries to McQueen and Woodward as they face a resurgent China in the semi-finals of Asia Rugby Sevens Series round two
Hong Kong must find a way to win against the tide after a tough opening day at the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in South Korea has them staring down the barrel of a tricky semi-final meeting with China.
All is not lost for a battered and bruised Hong Kong, obviously, but injuries to Tom McQueen and Max Woodward and a 28-21 loss to the hosts mean Gareth Baber’s side are precariously placed.
While Baber feels his side didn’t do a lot wrong on day one, McQueen looks to have a serious knee injury and Woodward is battling a quad complaint, but could still take part in the tournament.
“There is not a whole lot wrong with what we are doing,” Baber said.
“It [the loss to South Korea] was one of those games where we didn’t get everything right.”
A China side that fell in the semi-finals in the first round carry some serious momentum into day two after three wins that included a team-lifting 26-21 triumph over Sri Lanka.
“They [China] played some good stuff,” Baber said.
“They have got some good physicality, they’ve got good conditioning levels and play a high tempo game. We know them pretty well as we played against a lot of them up in Shandong [during a pre-series camp].”
Down 21-7 against South Korea after an early Rowan Varty try, Hong Kong fought back through tries to Lee Jones and Ryan Meacheam to level the scores.
However the deficit proved a bridge too far as South Korea scored late to secure the victory.
“Reality was it was a turnover right at the end of the game and we could have scored at one end and they ended up scoring at the other,” Baber said.
Hong Kong’s first two matches returned massive wins, with a 47-5 thumping of Taiwan followed by a 57-0 demolition of Japan that saw Varty, Meacheam and Jones all score twice.
A Japan side that Baber had predicted to be stronger due to the inclusion of a couple of experienced players looked worse than in Hong Kong three weeks ago, losing all three of their games.
South Korea will play Sri Lanka in the other semi-final.
There is a sense of déjà vu for Hong Kong’s women after they, just like at home in the first round, won two of their three pool games to set up a semi-final meeting with China.
Again it was Japan that foiled a perfect opening day for Hong Kong, although Anna Richards’ charges took it up to their perennial nemesis and at one point led 12-0 in a 24-12 loss.
Chong Ka-yan and Ivy Kwong Sau-yan scored early tries as their side looked ready to run Japan all the way, but they were unable to sustain the push.
Hong Kong fell short against China last time around, losing 19-7, but Richards feels her side is better positioned now.
“I’m really proud of the way the girls played against Japan,” Richards said.
“China is going to be a really tough game but the girls have shown this week that the application is really good and I think their focus has been one of the biggest improvements overall.”
Hong Kong earlier defeated Uzbekistan 51-0 on the back of three tries from Amelie Seure and two from Lindsay Varty and posted an impressive 24-0 victory against Singapore, with Seure again busy in finding the line twice.