Agony for Hong Kong: defeats by two points and one point put Paul John’s men under pressure
Home side need victory against Zimbabwe after going down 14-12 to Germany and 22-21 to PNG
Hong Kong go into the second day of the Sevens World Series Qualifier needing victory against Zimbabwe to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages and keeping alive their hopes joining the elite sevens club.
It was a familiar story as Paul John’s men came agonisingly close in their pool F games against Germany and Papua New Guinea, losing both by narrow margins.
After a 14-12 loss against the Germans, Hong Kong held the lead against PNG with the final hooter about to blow but allowed their opponents to score under the posts for a converted try and a 22-21 defeat.
Hong Kong are last in pool F after two matches but the results in other matches have been such that they still have a good chance of making it through to the knockout stages.
“We just have to dust ourselves off, and recover because we have one more game against Zimbabwe and hopefully we can get through to the elimination rounds,” said Hong Kong captain Ben Rimene.
“Sevens is also about fitness and obviously day two will be harder than day one and we just have to come back, recover and get back out there tomorrow.”
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Germany are through after victories over Hong Kong and Zimbabwe (27-7) while PNG and Zimbabwe have one win each. Hong Kong’s points difference is only -3 and victory over Zimbabwe (-13) could see them qualify for the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed teams.
And if the Germans beat PNG (-6), Hong Kong could even sneak second place. However, for that to happen, the Hong Kong players must make the most of the chances they are more than capable of creating and cut out the errors against Zimbabwe.
Against PNG, they were caught cold in the restarts and missed a tackle that allowed Arthur Clement to run nearly the length of the field to score a converted try at the death.
“We probably need to be a bit more clinical nearer the try-line and finishing the opportunities we had,” said Rimene. “We probably had two chances against Germany and had the opportunity to stop PNG from scoring but they pretty much ran the length of the field.
“We can’t do much about it now, anyway. There are positives as well. When we retain the ball and play our game we can do damage to teams.”
Hong Kong coach Paul John said the players put themselves under pressure with a number of unnecessary errors.
“We missed that tackle at the end, the boys worked really hard but they made some simple errors and we made it difficult for ourselves,” said John.
Against PNG, Hong Kong fought back brilliantly after being two tries down – helped by the sinbinning of Henry Kalua – with Salom Yiu Kam-shing and Cado Lee keeping the home side in the game before Michael Coverdale touched down to give them a 21-15 lead.
Yiu and Jamie Hood scored Hong Kong’s tries against Germany. Yiu had given Hong Kong the lead but Germany replied with two converted tries before Hood scored in the fourth minute of the second half.
Hong Kong piled on the pressure trying to overcome the two-point deficit but despite a number of breaks were unable to apply the finishing touch.