Impressive 43-34 victory over Kenya shows Hong Kong are finally starting to build the depth they crave
Leigh Jones bloods two more debutants as his side explode out to a 22-point lead after half-time and hold on to win
Hong Kong held off a fast-finishing Kenya on Saturday to secure a 43-34 win in Nairobi that captain Jamie Tsang says proves the depth coach Leigh Jones has been building is coming to the fore.
After fielding a below-strength side in last week’s draw, Kenya made 13 changes and assembled what was close to their best team, however Hong Kong took control after half-time and kept their noses in front.
They led by 22 points at one stage, delivering a far improved effort on last year’s tour that netted a 34-10 loss in the one-off test.
“Last year compared to this year is completely different and it shows that Hong Kong has got some real depth now,” Tsang said.
“You look at some of the guys we have left at home and the sevens guys are in Germany. We have come over here with some new caps and some youngsters and we have turned over a really good team. It shows that we are going in the right direction.”
Five players made their debut for Hong Kong in the first test and Jones added James Christie and Evi Saua to that list on Saturday.
“We set out to try and control the pace of the game,” Tsang said. “I felt like we did that in the first half and then the impact of our replacements was massive and that went a long way to winning the game for us.
“They’re a dangerous team and they attack from anywhere, but we held out and we showed some real grit towards the end to score again and put them to bed.”
Hong Kong started solidly and led 9-3 after 20 minutes, with fly half Matt Rosslee nailing three penalties to give the visitors some early confidence.
They built throughout the first half and saw a couple of scoring opportunities go begging before powerful second rower Kyle Sullivan found the line after some creative play from scrum half Liam Slatem, with Rosslee’s conversion giving his side a 16-6 lead at the break.
The match opened up in the second half, with tries to powerful forwards Dayne Jans and Alex Ng Wai-shing, along with some more sharp kicking from Rosslee, seeing Jones’ side shoot out to a 33-11 lead.
The hosts wouldn’t lie down, however, and pulled it back to 36-27 inside the final 10 minutes through some expansive play and superb finishing out wide.
It was another forward in Matt Lamming who steadied the ship to ensure Hong Kong held on for a memorable victory.