Hong Kong make it four on the trot at Asia Rugby U-19 Championship
Peter Drewett’s side finish a successful week with a big win over Malaysia to qualify for next year’s World Rugby Junior Trophy
Hong Kong won their fourth successive Asia Rugby U-19 Championship on Saturday, beating Malaysia 67-10 in Kuala Lumpur to book a spot in the 2017 World Rugby Junior Trophy in Uruguay.
Their nine-try demolition of Malaysia followed wins over Chinese Taipei (54-8) and Sri Lanka (61-0) earlier in a week that could not have gone any better for Hong Kong.
“It’s been an outstanding week for the players,” coach Peter Drewett said.
“If we look at where they started and finished, it’s been a great success in terms of player development. The team showed a lot of maturity.”
Next year’s World Rugby Junior Trophy will help Drewett identify the best of Hong Kong’s young players.
“Playing in the junior trophy over the past few years has played a huge part in seasoning players,” he said.
“Being able to compete at a higher level shows them what is required in terms of high performance behaviour, managing themselves on and off pitch and the strength and conditioning commitments required to be senior internationals.
“As coaches we are in a much better position to assess after we have taken teams to the junior trophy. “The intensity of that competition gives us a better idea of how players react to that pressure and on the back of that competition we are in a better position to make recommendations about which players could advance to Leigh Jones’ elite rugby programme and hopefully on to senior caps.”
As they have done throughout the tournament, Hong Kong asserted their superiority from start to finish against Malaysia, playing nearly the entirety of the first half in Malaysian territory.
If not for the horrendous conditions early on, with heavy rain turning the pitch into a morass and the game halted due to lightning, Hong Kong would have likely posted an even larger margin, as their repeated line breaks were foiled more by the poor footing than the Malaysian defence.
“There is a high degree of skill in the team and we made a plan to play with freedom and responsibility,” Drewett said.
“You have to do the hard work of going forward and getting momentum, but once we have it, we want to see all of the players, no matter their jersey numbers, showing the ability to offload, support and evade.”
Flanker Gregor Ramage stood out in another impressive team performance, opening the scoring in both halves with tries, and coming inches away from completing the hat-trick late in the game.
Matt Worley added three first half penalties and Kyle Kitney, James Karton and Daniel Pusack were amongst the tries.