Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018: Hong Kong blown away by early Russia blitz – ‘we hadn’t touched the ball’
After falling behind 21-0 at the break, Paul John’s side show some fight in the second half and will now face Jamaica in the Bowl quarter-finals
Hong Kong’s dream of stealing a win in the main draw at the Rugby World Cup Sevens was over within seven minutes on Saturday morning, with Russia ambushing Paul John’s side with a dominant first half before going on to win 21-7.
The score was 21-0 at the break after three quick-fire Russian tries, before Hong Kong fought back in the second half to restore some respectability to the scoreboard at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
It’s been only two weeks since Hong Kong played the Cook Islands in a qualifier for the 15s World Cup and the quick transition seemed to tell, although captain Ben Rimene was making no excuses.
“I guess you could use that but we’re professionals, we know what we need to do and we have played a lot of sevens,” Rimene said. “It’s not the easiest going from 15s to sevens but it’s part of the job and we have to do it.
“It was a slow start for us, they were 21-0 up at half-time and we hadn’t touched the ball, when we had the ball we just gave it back to them too easily. Teams like that, if you give them the ball they are going to score points.”
It was debutant Liam Herbert who scored Hong Kong’s try, with some sharp passing from Toby Fenn and Cado Lee Ka-to allowing the young flier to streak away and touch down under the posts.
Hong Kong drop into the bottom third of the 24-team tournament and will face Jamaica in the Bowl quarter-finals early on Sunday morning [Hong Kong time].
— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 20, 2018
Hong Kong will be confident of progressing deep into a Bowl competition that includes a number of teams they have encountered in the World Series qualifier.
“First we have to focus on Jamaica and then the focus will be to be in the top part of that draw come [the final day],” Rimene said.
“We have to [tighten up] the set structures that we have in place. We knew what we were meant to do [against Russia], but we weren’t executing. It’s more about execution than anything else.”
Coach John stressed that his team’s ultimate objectives from San Francisco were still valid – possibly even more so with next year’s qualifying tournament in mind.
“Our objective now is to win a few games and try to reach the higher end of the competition,” he said.
“We cross over with Jamaica now and they have a lot of good athletes, so we are still playing countries that we want to test ourselves against.
“Sevens is getting more and more difficult, so it is good to test ourselves against as many teams as possible, especially those we may meet in the World Series qualification tournament in Hong Kong next year.”