Hong Kong's grip on second place in Asia was loosened by South Korea, who held on to score a 33-26 victory against the hosts at Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday. A poor first half, which ended with the home team trailing 25-7, and having conceded a bonus point by allowing the dangerous Korean backs to score four tries, all but sealed the result. But Hong Kong head coach Andy Hall refused to blame it on rust, it being the opening encounter for the hosts in the new-look Asia Rugby Championship. When you turn over ball a dozen times, give away three penalties and they score four tries, it is very difficult to come back Hong Kong head coach Andy Hall "I don't think you can say we were rusty. But it was a slow start, especially when you give away a bonus point by half-time. When you turn over ball a dozen times, give away three penalties and they score four tries, it is very difficult to come back," Hall said. But Nick Hewson's men didn't give up and came storming back in the second half, adding three tries to a solo effort by Tom McQueen in the first half when he took a quick tap, chipped the defence and scored. But Hall was spot on, as the comeback fell short, especially with Hong Kong conceding a penalty and a fifth try in the second period. "It is disappointing that we conceded points either side of half-time. These are championship minutes as they call it and I was probably more disappointed with the three points we conceded at the start of the second half when we had just debriefed and told to re-establish ourselves. They didn't deliver and that is frustrating," Hall said. The visitors, battle-hardened by last weekend's 30-56 loss to Japan, were quick to take control. Powerfully built fullback Jang Seong-min, who had scored a brace against the Brave Blossoms, touched down twice while winger Jegal Bin also scored a brace for the Koreans. The first three tries all came down the right flank as Jang and Jegal cut the defence to shreds and turned Hong Kong winger Salom Yiu Kam-shing into a spectator. The sin-binning of Korean prop Kim Kwang-sik for a shoulder charge early in the second half sparked Hong Kong's comeback. A try by prop John Aikman, who was at the bottom of a driving maul, was the first step as Hong Kong - boosted by the presence of substitute fly-half Niall Rowark - mounted a fightback. Two more tries by fullback Alex McQueen and Yiu cut the deficit to a single score but time had run out. "The Koreans were tiring and if the game went on for another five minutes we probably would have snuck it but we didn't deserve it in the end," Hall said. "What was frustrating was they didn't have to work hard for their points. Nothing they threw at us was over-complex or something we couldn't deal with." South Korea coach Chung Hyung-suk said: "It was truly a team performance and I think that was the difference today. We played as a team with a lot of heart and played smartly."