Asia Rugby Sevens Series

Heartbreak for Hong Kong in Asia Rugby Sevens Series

Japan win final 12-0 at Football Club to gain revenge for shock loss to Hong Kong at the recent Asian Games

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2018, 10:35pm

An impressive Asia Rugby Sevens Series tournament ended in heartbreak for Hong Kong, with two backline lapses proving costly in the final against Japan, who triumphed 12-0 at Football Club on Saturday.

It was sweet revenge for Japan after Hong Kong had got the better of them to win the gold medal in the sevens final at the recent Asian Games.

Yesterday’s clash was a tense, bitter final with a scoreless first half and a showcase of defensive strength from both teams.

Japan drew first blood two minutes into the second half with Kameli Soejima breaking wide to score an unconverted try after a lapse in defence by the home side.

A minute later, Jose Seru raced away in similar fashion to leave the Hong Kong side stretched on defence. Katsuyuki Sakai converted the try to put the icing on the cake.

Hong Kong coach Paul John said he was disappointed with Japan getting retribution after his side had experienced success at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

“I think we played into [Japan’s] hands a little bit,” he said.

“I think it was our fault for not securing the ball at times. This game and tournament came down to two errors and two tries.”

Jack Neville, who scored four tries during the tournament and was one of Hong Kong’s strongest players, said expectations were sky high for the squad after their Asian Games gold, and it may have caught up with them.

“We’ve developed some pretty high standards and only conceded one try going into the final,” he said. “At the start [of the final] we looked dangerous but we just couldn’t finish off some opportunities. But there’s definitely some positives from that game and this tournament for sure.”

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There was no love lost between the sides, with several arguments during stoppages in play and a wrestle for the ball after the final whistle.

Hong Kong were by far the most impressive men’s side heading into the finals, outscoring their opponents 186-7, including three clean sheets.

Liam Herbert and Max Woodward also finished the tournament with four tries each.

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Sri Lanka beat the Philippines 40-12 to finish third, the speedy Sri Lankans proving too much to handle.

Next up for the Hong Kong squad is another round in the Asia series in South Korea on September 29-30.

The Hong Kong women’s side lost to Kazakhstan in a bronze-medal match 14-5.

Hong Kong had beaten Thailand and South Korea in the group stage but lost to Japan. They then lost 19-14 to China in the first round of the knockout stage. Japan went on to beat China 12-7 to win the women’s final.

For Hong Kong, Natasha Olson-Thorne scored five tries during the tournament and Aggie Poon Pak-yan notched four tries.