Hong Kong’s men’s and women’s sevens squads enjoyed a positive start to the final tournament of the 2022 Asia Rugby Sevens Series on Saturday in the UAE. The men reached their third straight cup semi-final and will play Japan on Sunday at 4.20pm, Hong Kong time. The women also had a positive outing and are progressing towards the trophy with their semi final set against China at 6.25pm. Men’s sevens coach Jevon Groves was pleased with his charges from top to bottom. “We utilised the full squad and there were some good performances,” he said. “Everyone got equal game time and we were able to manage the playing time of some of the boys who have had a lot of minutes lately, which is a bonus. “The selections managed the games well, but there is still more to get out from us. We play Japan tomorrow and you can see their players have had a lot of volume lately, just as we have had. “But they are coached well and have quality players. They obviously came up with a good performance against us in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, and I think we can use that.” The women held their own in a challenging pool, battling Kazakhstan to a 12-12 draw in their opener. It was a much-improved performance after Hong Kong lost to the same side 15-7 in their last meeting. The draw still stung given that Hong Kong led 12-0 in the second half. Chan Tsz-ching opened the scoring, running in a smart tap-and-go penalty from 60 metres after a high tackle up field. She nearly claimed a second after another long break minutes later. Chan was felled near the posts but still managed an offload pass to Jess Eden to push Hong Kong ahead 12-0. Kazakhstan replied in the 12th minute with a good solo break that found the corner out wide, and were very fortunate to convert a speculative kick-and-chase into a try to level the scores at the final whistle. Hong Kong’s women carried momentum into a second straight tough fixture against Japan, who were champions in South Korea. The two sides exchanged blows early on with Japan leading 14-7 after four minutes. Julia Mba Oyana found the energy to score from halfway to put Hong Kong within seven points. An infraction at the scrum gave Japan space to score a third before half-time, bringing the tally at the break to 21-7. They widened that gap to 26-7 shortly after the restart with a well-worked team try that found five pairs of hands before a finish beneath the posts. Jess Eden replied brilliantly with a great solo effort to take the kick-off all the way back to the Japanese try line, closing the gap to 26-14. A miscue for Hong Kong opened a gap in the line and Japan made them pay with a fifth try after 11 minutes. Hong Kong held the line from there on, in a 33-14 losing effort. Sabay Lynam made a big impact in her debut appearance of the season, orchestrating play well in the first halves, as she split time with Vivian Poon Hoi-yan. It was another positive performance for the women, and one they would continue to build on from their last game of the day against Malaysia. Hong Kong needed a positive outing in terms of points after Kazakhstan beat Malaysia by a margin of 36 points earlier. They got it. The city’s men’s side added to Malaysian woes with a handy 38-7 win to open their tournament. Captain Max Woodward and Max Denmark both scored twice in the first half, as Hong Kong led 28-0 at the break, with Russ Webb adding four conversions. Denmark’s tries came on his first and second touches of the game. The in-form striker proved too much for the Malaysian defence, as he brought his series total to 10 tries before lunchtime. Fong Kit-fung and Seb Brien added tries in the second half, while Malaysia could only muster a breakaway score late as Hong Kong romped home 38-7. Hong Kong’s men then beat China 28-12 in their second match after Denmark’s third try of the day. Brien pushed his total to two with senior players Liam Herbert and Alessandro Nardoni both getting on the board in another clinical performance. In their final match, Hong Kong trailed 12-0 Sri Lanka’s tactic of kicking behind the defence and letting their speedsters collect paid dividends with two early tries. Veteran player Alex McQueen took control of things in the dying seconds of the half, as he conjured a solo score, evading the defence in midfield before pulling away down the stretch in a sprint to the whitewash. McQueen converted his try to close the gap to 12-7. Groves kept faith with his starters to open the second half and was rewarded with a patient attack that saw Fong finish off a move after over a dozen phases with a try beneath the posts, giving Hong Kong the lead for the first time. Callum McCullough then produced back-to-back tries with the second a great chase of the loose ball as Sri Lanka bobbled the pill in front of their posts, allowing the forward to dot down through flailing tackles. Hong Kong led 26-12 before an intercept try for Sri Lanka closed the gap. John then used his bench, bringing on multiple threats in Webb and Denmark. The experience and fresh legs sealed the deal with Denmark almost immediately generating another leg-churning score from deep to put Hong Kong clear 31-17.