Semi-final clash with Japan looms after frustrating day for Hong Kong in Asian sevens series
Paul John’s side don’t have the luxury of avoiding their Asian nemesis until the final after 31-24 loss to hosts South Korea
Hong Kong must go through Japan if they are to make the final of the second round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in South Korea after losing to the hosts on what coach Paul John labelled a frustrating day.
After easy wins over the Philippines (36-0) and Malaysia (28-5), Hong Kong started poorly against South Korea and trailed 24-5 at half-time before losing 31-24.
It means they finished second in pool B and don’t have the luxury of avoiding their Asian nemesis until the final, like they did in Hong Kong before going down to Japan 19-12 in the decider.
“It was frustrating in parts, we weren’t as good as we were in Hong Kong and as a result we struggled a little bit,” John said.
“But it’s a different day [Sunday] and a challenge and we proved last time when we pushed Japan how close we are to them.”
Hong Kong must first defeat Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals and John is hoping his side can improve their work from the kick-off.
“We won a lot more of our kick-offs in Hong Kong. Korea had a very good start against us, to be 24-5 down at half-time, I thought the boys played really well after that and showed a bit of fight,” John said.
“It’s just a matter of getting that attitude right from the start of games and I think we will be very difficult to beat.
“Sri Lanka have got two very quick boys on either side, they score a lot of tries and they have conceded quite a few points as well. It’s a matter of us getting possession and using it.”
Toby Fenn and Seb Brien impressed on day one, with Brien running in three tries and Fenn two.
Anna Richards’ women are similarly placed to John’s side after winning two of three on day one, going down to China 22-0 in their last game after comfortable victories over South Korea (38-0) and Sri Lanka (28-0).
They face a tough match-up against Thailand in the quarters and Richards is expecting a hard-working and well drilled opponent.
“They have got a Japanese coach and he has got them coming up pretty hot on defence and really attacking the ruck,” she said.
Paul John eager to see Hong Kong youngsters perform on the road as Asian sevens series heads to South Korea
“I thought we started well today, we had a couple of good games. We had good speed on attack and I thought our defence was pretty good in those first two games.
“We wanted to take it into the last game, we knew China were going to be tough but we struggled in the first half to get out of our 22. I thought our second half was a lot better, there is a lot of plusses from today.”
Chong Ka-yan was at her speedy best for Hong Kong, finding the try line three times for the day.