Asia Rugby Sevens Series: Hong Kong fall short to Japan again in final leg
Japan’s stingy defence was too much for Hong Kong in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series final in Sri Lanka
Hong Kong’s men held possession for much of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series third leg final in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, but Japan’s ironclad defence ultimately denied them the win. Japan won 19-5, showcasing an almost perfect line with expert tackling and an offence that pounced on every opportunity to score.
In the championship match, Hong Kong pressed early into Japanese territory but a missed pass turned the ball over. Japan’s counter attack punctured the Hong Kong defence as they drew first blood and scored to make it 7-0 around the four minute mark.
About a minute later Max Denmark broke through a tackle on the wing to score, but James Christie was unable to convert leaving the score at 7-5. Japan scored in extra time during the first half to make it 14-5.
In the second half, Hong Kong once again held the ball for the first few minutes but as soon as Japan got possession they were able to score, as Kosuke Hashino stretched the Hong Kong line wide and made it 19-5 around the 11 minute mark. From there Japan went into lockdown mode, continuously denying Hong Kong’s offence from gaining any significant ground.
With the second place finish, the men booked a spot in the international qualifier for the World Rugby Sevens Series at the Hong Kong Sevens next April, and also earned an invite as the 16th team to the Singapore Rugby Sevens the week afterwards. Paul John went with a younger squad in Sri Lanka, leaving Ben Rimene, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Michael Coverdale and Toby Fenn out of the line-up.
While they won their games on Saturday easily, scoring 118 points in two matches, Sunday proved more difficult for the Hong Kong men.
In their last group game, the men beat hosts Sri Lanka 21-12, led by tries from Denmark, Jamie Hood and Cado Lee. They then went on to squeak out a win against the Philippines 19-12, getting tries from Lee, Liam Herbert, Raef Morrison and Hood to punch their ticket to the final.
The Hong Kong women got smothered by a stingy Japanese defence in the championship final as well, losing 31-0.
The women’s team won their final group game against Korea 27-0 getting tries from Stephanie Chan, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Kwong Sau-yan and Agnes Chan Tsz-ching. They then beat China in the semi-final 17-7, getting tries from Chong Ka-yan (2) and Aggie Poon Pak-yan.