Still reason for Hong Kong to celebrate as 44-5 loss to Japan marks ‘disappointing’ end to women’s World Cup campaign
Coach Jo Hull and her players keen to celebrate ‘an amazing three weeks’ regardless of the team failing to win a game
A 44-5 loss to Japan was a disappointing end to the Women’s Rugby World Cup for a Hong Kong side who have been through the wringer in Ireland, but as always the vibe was still positive after the match.
The tournament yielded five tough losses but Jo Hull and her charges have plenty of reasons to smile after a gutsy showing in their inaugural campaign at the showpiece event.
“It’s going to be nice to celebrate what has been an amazing three weeks,” Hull said. “There are a lot of amazing moments that we have had throughout this tournament.
“Already on the bus on the way home some of the younger players are talking about 2021 and that is incredible. These girls are now focussed on World Cup cycles, they’re not just focused on playing in Asia
“They’re already saying ‘I need to do this, I need to do that and I want to be back in 2021’ and that is the legacy right there.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) August 26, 2017
“A key thing that we have got to do now is that when we get back to Hong Kong these girls really step up and play for their clubs and show that they are World Cup players, so that we don’t take a step backwards and we can really influence the game at home.”
Hull had targeted the Japan match as a measuring stick of her side’s improvement through the World Cup journey and is confident there has been ground made despite the 39-point margin being only slightly better than Hong Kong’s 60-19 loss to the Sakura in July.
“It was a bit of a disappointing finish, to be honest, [but] you can see significant improvement in what we are doing,” Hull said.
“The middle part of the game I actually think we did very well. There were periods of the game where we had possession but we know Japan are just very clinical and unfortunately they ran away with a few too many easy tries.”
Japan were too slick and precise for Hong Kong, leaving them to settle for last place in the 12-team tournament after failing to win a game.
Hey World Rugby, don’t you dare deny Hong Kong the chance to build on their debut Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign
Hull’s side had plenty of possession early but couldn’t crack a solid Japanese defence, with the Sakura taking a 10-0 lead after the first quarter of the match through tries to full back Mayu Shimizu and winger Honoka Tsutsumi.
Adrienne Garvey was one player in particular who provided her side with plenty of drive with her carries and willingness to work, but handling errors across the board hindered Hong Kong’s chances.
Hull’s side did prevent Japan from scoring for more than 20 minutes but conceded another try in the shadows of half-time, with Akari Kato getting in on the act on her wing to make it 15-0 at the break.
Shimizu ensured the Sakura got off to a flying start to the second half, scoring within two minutes, however Karen So Hoi-ting hit back for Hong Kong on 53 minutes. So found the line from close range after a sustained push in the corner.
However, Japan followed up with two tries to Ayano Sakurai and one each to Makiko Tomita and Sayaka Suzuki to pull away.
“It was good to get on the scoreboard, a good forwards try there from Karen and fair play to the girls, they have worked hard and this is the first time they have ever come across this kind of competition,” Hull said.
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“I think our seven had a great game, Agnes [Chan Tsz-ching], and both our props Tammy [Lau Nga-wun] and [Lee Ka-] Shun, they have just been real warriors for us.
“I thought Rosie [Hopewell-Fong] controlled the game very well today, she had some good kicking, a couple of good line breaks and I think she is really starting to come into her own and show what a class player she is.”