Women's Rugby World Cup 2017

Persistent Hong Kong finally on the board at the Women’s Rugby World Cup with two tries in 39-15 loss to Wales

Natasha Olson-Thorne and Chong Ka-yan find the line as Jo Hull’s side take it up to their 10th-ranked opponents before fading late

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 4:37am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 11:09pm

Hong Kong’s determination and positivity were finally rewarded at the Women’s Rugby World Cup on Thursday, with Jo Hull’s side scoring two tries in a fighting 39-15 loss to Wales in Dublin.

Hull’s claims that her side made significant strides in huge losses to Canada and New Zealand proved on the money as Hong Kong genuinely looked the better side at times during the first hour.

While 10th-ranked Wales took the upper hand in the last quarter of the match and pulled away, tries to Natasha Olson-Thorne and Chong Ka-yan ensured Hong Kong will take something away from the pool stages.

“We asked the players to bounce back, we had to make our mark today and I think we did,” Hull said. “We showed potentially what we can do with the ball in hand. The first two games really prepared us well for the physicality of what Wales brought to us today.”

Adding weight to Hong Kong’s performance is the fact Wales were by no means embarrassed in their losses to New Zealand (44-12) and Canada (15-0).

Hong Kong will go to Belfast for the second stage of the tournament with renewed confidence, with Spain up next for Hull’s side as they battle it out for ninth place.

“It was good to see a couple of tries and some nice goal-kicking from Rocky [Adrienne Garvey], it was really important for us today to come away with some points,” Hull said.

“Obviously at half-time it was pretty close and then that last 20 minutes they got the momentum and they got some good go-forward and their impact subs made a big difference.

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, we still lost and it was still a disappointing result so we will have a look at that and how we can improve moving forward.”

In their opening two losses, the floodgates were open from the start but it was a resolute Hong Kong who stepped out to start this encounter, holding Wales out until the 15th minute.

During this period, Hong Kong did plenty of attacking of their own and missed one particularly good opportunity to score after driving Wales deep into their own territory.

Even when Wales did hit the scoreboard through a try to Shona Powell-Hughes, Hull’s side kept at it and were on the board themselves soon after, with full back Garvey converting a regulation penalty attempt.

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Hong Kong kept their opponents under pressure and, as a result, continued to win penalties, with Wales losing second rower Siwan Lillicrap to the sin bin after 24 minutes.

Hong Kong made the most of their advantage, with Olson-Thorne busting open the Welsh defence and charging to the line.

Garvey was on target with the extras to make it 10-5 after half an hour, however Wales hit back with two quick tries to take a 17-10 lead into the break.

Hong Kong weren’t about to lie down, though, and Chong scored after multiple phases to keep her side in the hunt after 45 minutes.

But it was Wales who finished the better, with three tries in the final 20 minutes ensuring they ran out relatively easy winners.

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“The biggest thing for us today was the breakdown and I think we did win that battle so I am pretty proud of them,” Hull said.

“I think Agnes [Chan Tsz-ching] did very well today, she caused a lot of problems. Rosey [Hopewell-Fong] had a good game at 10, she controlled it and did some pretty good kicking there. Obviously having Rocky back, that experience and physicality really helped us.”

Elsewhere, New Zealand, England, the USA and France secured their passage through to next week’s semi-finals in Belfast.