Hong Kong shrug off shaky start to end a ‘perfect’ first day at the Sevens
After a shaky start to the competition Hong Kong got the show back on the road with an emphatic 38-7 win over American Samoa in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Friday.
Having started their campaign with an unconvincing 19-7 victory over Tunisia, they put in a much-improved performance against the Pacific island debutants in their second HSBC Sevens World Series qualifying match.
Two tries from Rowan Varty, plus one each from Tom McQueen, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Tsang Hing-hung and Raef Morrison, eased the home side to victory. It meant that Hong Kong finished the day off on a high note.
Despite old rivals Japan playing ominously well with wins over Uruguay (24-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (41-0), Varty was content to just concentrate on his own team.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time. Italy are the strongest team in our pool and we play them tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll be looking to win that game and just take it from there. We’re happy with our start to the tournament.”
The Rolling Stones’ song Start Me Up was playing when the hosts took to the field for their first match against Tunisia earlier in the day, and it proved apt as it took a while for them to get going.
Two tries from winger Yiu – who already has three for the tournament so far – got Hong Kong off to the best possible start. Not that he was looking to hog the limelight.
“It was a team effort. My teammates created the space for me to score. I just did my job,” Yiu, 26, said.
“We hadn’t played Tunisia much before this, so we didn’t know what to expect. But we kept to our game plan and it all worked out.”
However, things could have been very different if the Tunisians had taken their chances and had not seen two of their players sin-binned during the course of the game.
Hong Kong had an early reprieve when only a try-saving tackle from Alex McQueen prevented Tunisia’s Chadi Jabri from touching down. McQueen forced Jabri to knock the ball on as he crossed the line and the try was disallowed.
Three minutes later Hong Kong took the lead when McQueen’s brother, Tom, scooted in for a try, which Jamie Hood converted. But Tunisia fought back to level the score 7-7 as the half-time hooter sounded, with Hossem Khalifa scoring the try and Chemseddine Khalifa kicking the conversion.
The second-half introduction of the mercurial Varty gave Hong Kong more dynamism and it paid dividends immediately as Yiu slipped through Tunisia’s defence to score. Hood knocked over the conversion, giving the hosts a 14-7 lead.
This seemed to settle Hong Kong’s nerves and Yiu raced in for his second try in the right-hand corner with only a minute left.