Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup dream is over: Brave Hong Kong fall to Canada in repechage do-or-die

  • Hong Kong lose hard-fought battle to Canada, who book ticket to Japan
  • Captain Jamie Cunningham disappointed in failure to stick to game plan
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2018, 6:54am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2018, 11:00pm

The mountain proved too high as a valiant Hong Kong came up short against Canada in the battle for the final spot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Hong Kong threw everything at Canada in the first half of the final game at the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage in Marseille, France, early on Saturday morning (Hong Kong time), but their failure to score tries sealed their fate.

They ended up losing 27-10 despite dominating territory and possession, leaving captain Jamie Cunningham bitterly disappointed.

“We didn’t stick to our game plan and I think we suffered because of that, which is disappointing.” he said. “We lost some little battles and that’s why I think we didn’t get the win.

“It’s a bit frustrating to be honest. We had the opportunities once again like the Germany game and we didn’t take our opportunities, but Canada did.”

Hong Kong lost their opening game of the repechage to Germany, which meant they needed to score four tries against Canada. They could only manage one in the end.

The rain poured down right from kick-off in what made for a battle of attrition and a test of nerves.

Hong Kong came flying out of the gate and kept pressing in an intense first 14 minutes, but they could not breach the Canadian defence.

The Canucks landed a crushing blow with their first real attack in the 17th minute, Ray Barkwill finishing off a drive between the posts.

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Hong Kong had a try disallowed for offside, but the turning point came in the 30th minute when Hong Kong were awarded a penalty and instead of kicking for the corner, fly half Matthew Rosslee was forced to take the kick for goal as the tee carrier had entered the field.

From the restart, Rosslee had his clearing kick charged down by DTH van der Merwe, who recovered the ball to score and extend the lead to 14-3. It was a cruel blow for the outstanding Rosslee.

Hong Kong dominated territory (71 per cent) and possession (75 per cent) in the first half, but were unable to cross the line, even with Canada down to 14 men at one stage when fly half Gordon McRorie was yellow-carded.

Hong Kong finally scored in the 51st minute, with winger Conor Hartley going over in the corner, but they then lost inspirational winger Salom Yu Kam-shing to a leg injury.

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The dangerous Van der Merwe then put the final nail in the coffin, breaking three tackles to score his second try.

The Canucks will now slot into pool B with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia. The World Cup starts next September 20 at Tokyo Stadium, with the final on November 2.