Hong Kong’s under-20s suffered a bruising start to their Junior World Rugby Trophy campaign on Tuesday as Tonga applied their size advantage to win 35-16 in their opening pool match in Lisbon, Portugal. But co-captain Hugo Stiles said the squad performed well and they remained positive despite the result. “I’m proud of the boys. We worked well and now we have to recover and pick ourselves up for the next game,” he said. Hong Kong started the match strongly, penning Tonga in their own half for the first 20 minutes, and the islanders could only breach opposition territory with some speculative long kicks – all of which were covered by Hong Kong’s back three of Stiles and Danial Davidson on the wings, and fullback Tomos Howells. The sustained early pressure led to two kickable penalties for Stiles, who coolly converted both to push Hong Kong out to a 6-0 lead. But midway through the first half, the giant Tongan backline began forcing repeated breaks at the gain-line and soon left Hong Kong scrambling in defence. The island outfit scored their first try in the 23rd minute after capitalising on some missed tackles, and the successful conversion saw Tonga take a lead which they would never relinquish. A period of heavy attack resulted in two more Tongan tries and two penalties – which were punctuated by another Stiles penalty – and Hong Kong went into half-time 9-21 down. After the break Hong Kong tightened their defensive structure and held the line for nearly 20 minutes, but Tonga made Hong Kong pay for every error and stretched their lead with a converted try in the 60th minute. Hong Kong managed a consolation try 14 minutes later when number eight Richard Lewis picked up from an attacking scrum near the Tonga line and nearly broke through Tonga’s first-up defence before being brought down close to the line. Recycling the ball quickly, scrum-half James Christie added some clever misdirection, reversing the ball to find Davidson unmarked on the blind side. Stiles’ successful conversion gave Hong Kong a glimpse of hope at 16-28, but Tonga were not to be stopped and in the last minute they scored their fifth try of the match to seal the victory. Next up, Hong Kong face Canada in their second pool match on May 16. Canada beat Namibia 35-20 in the opening round to go joint top of the group with Tonga.