Hong Kong claim thrilling last-minute victory over Belgium to clinch series
Super-sub Chris McAdam lands a drop goal in dying seconds to earn home side an 18-15 win
Hong Kong completed a remarkable 2-0 international series win over Belgium after a last-gasp drop goal from super-sub Chris McAdam earned the home team a hard-fought 18-15 victory at Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday.
McAdam, on for the final minutes of a compelling clash, coolly slotted over the winning kick in the last minute of regulation play as Hong Kong completed a stunning series triumph over the much-fancied Europeans, who were at number 25 in the IRB world rankings, four places above Hong Kong. This result will push Hong Kong up the rankings.
The left foot of fly half Ben Rimene had knocked over five penalties and put Hong Kong in position to finish with a flourish and his replacement, McAdam, was up to the task as he knocked over his attempt from close quarters after a sustained period of pressure inside the Belgium 22.
Belgium, down to 14 men for nearly half of the second period, had levelled the score at 15-15 with a try from centre Guillame Piron five minutes from the end. But Hong Kong came storming back and superb continuity with nearly 20 completed phases ended in McAdam’s heroics.
“The result was good. We struggled to get there but we did. We gutted it out. The last play of 20-plus phases and then we got the drop kick. I think it shows how far we have come as a team,” said elated captain Nick Hewson, who has a 2-0 win record since taking over the captaincy before the series.
“We will take any win as they come but it feels good. This has put smiles on the boys’ faces for Christmas so I’m happy with that,” Hewson added.
Hong Kong head coach Leigh Jones said: “You have got to be happy with a 2-0 win, haven’t you, but I’m disappointed with our performance levels today. It looked like we were looking forward to Christmas. Belgium are no mugs and we almost let them in at the end when I just thought we would be fizzing. I think perhaps we left a little too much on the training field.”
In a role reversal, Rimene started at fly half instead of McAdam who had controlled the opening half in the first test, which Hong Kong won 28-17. Rimene’s metronomic boot kept Hong Kong in the fray despite Belgium scoring two tries.
Belgium winger Jens Torfs scored in the first half after Hong Kong had been penalised at a scrum inside their own half which resulted in a quick tap and the ball being worked sweetly for Torfs to touch down. Rimene, who had knocked over two previous penalties, however, added a third as the hosts entered the break 9-8 in front.
“These two tests were very beneficial for us from an attitude point of view, even though we were frustrated by a few things, including the referee,” said Belgium coach Richard McClintock, who was unhappy with a few decisions that went against his side. “I think we were capable of holding ourselves and staying cool and doing our job. It happens all of the time when you play away. The game was close and was won on details.”