Double delight as Hong Kong men and women dominate in Darwin
Hong Kong ruled supreme at the “Hottest Sevens in the World” in Darwin on Sunday, winning both the men’s and women’s Cup competitions.
A precise, patient and professional approach by the men saw them dispatch Australian side Gumatj Cavaliers 28-12, while earlier Hong Kong’s women beat the Australian women’s sevens development squad, Tribe 7s, 26-14 in their Cup final.
Darwin was the first tournament for the two squads under new head coaches Gareth Baber and Anna Richards, and both were delighted with the results.
“We played two very good teams in the semis and the final and we went into both games with the same plan: to be as physical as we possibly could, to pressurise them when we didn't have the ball and to look after the ball when we did,” said men’s coach Baber.
“We followed that through and that was fantastic. It was a good work ethic shown by all and a very professional performance.
“I didn't know what to expect from the tournament coming in. I obviously saw this as a good training week for the players with the culmination of a good tournament at the end of it but as we got closer to the tournament, I started to find out more about the other teams were playing. We were pitching our weight really against Fijian sides fielding a number of boys who played for Fiji last year on the [Sevens World] Series.
“This tournament has helped us see what the group is capable of at this level and clearly this group of guys want to make strides to the World Series and obviously do well for Hong Kong at the Asian Games and on the Asian Series as well.
“And with the ladies winning their tournament as well, I think that the professionalism shown by all of the athletes and staff has shone through,” Baber added.
Hong Kong made it look easy in the men’s final with captain Jamie Hood opening the scoring in the first minute after a crafty, pirouetting run saw him knife through the Gumatj defence. Hood then converted, as he did later in the half when Tom McQueen finished a solid period of play, putting Hong Kong 14-0 up at the break.
The Gumatj attack began to fire in the second half as they scored from a long dash against the run of play, but reserve Rowan Varty came on to good effect, scoring quickly to extend Hong Kong’s buffer to 21-7.
McQueen capped an efficient weekend with his second try of the final and seventh overall for the tournament. Hood converted to extend the lead further and a consolation for Gumatj when Kwok Ka-chun was sin-binned proved too little, too late.
Hong Kong had earlier survived a difficult journey to the final, beating the Australian men’s Tribe 7s side 17-5 and top Fijian outfit Davetu Rugby 15-14.
In the women’s final, Rose Fong scored a hat-trick and converted all three of her tries for a total of 21 points in the match. Christy Cheng scored Hong Kong’s other try in the Cup decider.
After stuttering through a penalty-laden first half, Tribe 7s came back with two converted tries on either side of half-time to close the gap to 19-14. But with the game in the balance, Fong found space for the third time sprinting away to seal the Cup victory for Hong Kong.
“I can't take the smile off my face,” declared women’s coach Richards. “I’m proud of the girls, what they have achieved this week is going to put them in good stead for the year ahead leading into the Asian Games.
“The final was all about belief and I think that this is the first time I have seen the girls have that belief that they could win.
“It was close there at one moment, but the important thing is that we hit back straight away and that was pleasing to see. Rose scored three great tries in the final, but as a team we were just fantastic.
“This is my first tournament coaching an international side and I like starting on a winning note. I asked the girls after the final if they enjoyed winning. They said ‘yes’, so I said ‘good, then let’s continue’.” Richards said.