Rugby World Cup repechage: Canada await after Hong Kong romp to easy victory over Kenya
- Hong Kong wake up from their slumber to beat the Kenyans, but the odds are heavily stacked against them in their final game against unbeaten Canadians
Hong Kong sprang to life in the second half to thump Kenya 42-17 in their second game of the Rugby World Cup repechage tournament in Marseille, France on Saturday.
But they face a huge task to qualify for Japan in their final match against unbeaten Canada this Friday after the Canucks beat Germany 29-10.
Hong Kong need to win with a bonus point (four tries) and also deny the Canadians anything from the game to make it to their first Rugby World Cup.
Hong Kong captain James Cunningham said they were pleased to bounce back after their shock loss to Germany in their first match.
“A little bit better, a bit scary at the start that is for sure. But we knew we had the fitness so we just grinded it out,” he said.
Saturday’s game featured 41 turnovers and a massive amount of breakdowns in play, something Cunningham said was difficult to deal with at times. “It’s absolute bloody chaos, to go from the last few games against very structured teams to come into this.”
Coach Leigh Jones started an almost entirely different squad against Kenya, trying to freshen up his team after their disastrous 26-9 loss to Germany.
Kenya went out to a 12-0 lead early in the match but Max Denmark got Hong Kong on board and his try seemed to energise the team.
Hong Kong had trouble with massive Kenyan number eight Joshua Chisanga, who is listed at 187 centimetres and 111 kilograms.
Hong Kong had the ball in Kenyan territory for 72 per cent of the first half, but possession was split 50-50.
In the second half, Hong Kong started to call the tune.
A number of substitutions for the team appeared to do the trick, which included scrum half Liam Slatem coming on for Bryn Phillips, who got his first cap for the team.
In the 48th minute, Kenya failed to challenge in a line-out and Hong Kong capitalised as Nick Hewson rumbled and Rimene converted to give his team a 14-12 lead.
In the 53rd minute Toby Fenn scored again after some sustained pressure, but Kenya responded as sevens star Tony Opondo showed his speed as he burst through Hong Kong’s backline to make it 21-17.
In the 63rd minute, number eight Thomas Lamboley, who made an immediate impact coming on as a substitute, scored to make it 28-17, also earning the team a bonus point for scoring four or more tries. In the 69th minute, Lamboley scored again via video review.
Lewis Warner added the icing on the cake in extra time but appeared to have injured his foot.