2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage: Hong Kong captain bemoans failure to ‘do what was needed’ in loss to Germany
- Hong Kong have no answer for Germany’s staunch defence and lose a kicking game in Marseilles
- Hong Kong play Kenya next on November 17 in a must-win match in the repechage
While the dream is not necessarily over, it is now on life support when it comes to Hong Kong’s 2019 Rugby World Cup hopes.
A tight and well organised German squad, led by English coach Mike Ford, beat Hong Kong 26-9 in the first game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage on Sunday afternoon in Stade Delort in Marseilles, France.
Germany, ranked 29th, upset Hong Kong, 21st, relying on stingy defence and two timely tries in the second half as Hong Kong failed to rise to the occasion.
“I am obviously really disappointed,” captain Jamie Cunningham said. “We played some good rugby but when it mattered we didn’t complete. We had a couple of knock-ons at crucial times, we gave away too many penalties and that was all that Germany needed.
“We can’t keep dwelling on this game. We have to work hard for the next two games and see what happens with the other results.
“There were some really positive things that came out of the game and I’m really proud of the boys, but when push came to shove we just didn’t do what we needed to do to win.”
Germany captain Michael Poppmeier said: “That was an extremely intense 80 minutes. The first 40 was equal and then I think maybe our fitness got us towards the end, the last 20. Our subs came on and put in a massive effort. It was 100 per cent fight, as well as a little bit of belief and probably preparation.”
The first half was largely defined by the kicking game in windy conditions as neither side seemed to have an answer for the other team’s defence.
Hong Kong fly half Matt Rosslee and counterpart Raynor Parkinson traded penalty kicks early on, before Rosslee edged Hong Kong ahead 6-3.
Parkinson was then subbed off after he sustained a cut below his eye, and fullback Chris Hilsenbeck made his first penalty kick two minutes before the end of the first half to tie the score at 6-6.
Germany edged the first-half territory percentage 52 to 48, while possession was split 50-50. Germany also committed six handling errors and turned the ball over eight times in the first half alone, showcasing some nerves for the relatively inexperienced squad.
Parkinson, who came back on with his face heavily bandaged, nailed a penalty kick in the 48th minute to give Germany their first lead of the game at 9-6. Rosslee then drew Hong Kong level a few minutes later.
In the 61st minute, Parkinson converted another penalty kick to give Germany the lead once again at 12-9. Then Kane Boucaut was sent to the sin bin after a scrum infringement, which seemed to hamper Hong Kong’s ability to gain any substantial territory.
Germany broke the game open in the 65th minute from an unlikely source as hooker Kurt Haup brushed off the tackle of number eight Thomas Lamboley and rumbled home untouched after a line-out. Parkinson converted to make the score 19-9.
Germany put the icing on the cake in the 76th minute when Matthias Schosser scored.
Germany ended up beating Hong Kong in possession and territory, while Hong Kong conceded twice as many penalties in an undisciplined outing.
German coach Ford delivered a definitive game plan, showing that his team are willing to rely on slowing the pace down and relying largely on kicking to move the ball forward. Hong Kong tried to pick up the tempo, with winger Salom Yiu kam-Shing breaking through the line on a number of occasions but cut down near the line.
Hong Kong play Kenya next on November 17 in a must-win match if they have any chance of winning the repechage.
In the other match, Canada delivered an impressive 65-19 win over Kenya.
Hong Kong will have to pay special attention to back DTH van der Merwe who scored three tries and looked unstoppable at times. Van der Merwe plays his rugby for Glasgow Warriors in the PRO14 league and Canadian captain and scrum half Phil Mack said Van der Merwe was on another level right now.
“The guy is the man,” said Mack. “He does so much for us. And it gives the whole group confidence.”
Canada, who are ranked 23rd, play Germany on November 17.