07 Sep 2018

Hong Kong collected its second win at World Rugby U20 Trophy level after pounding hosts Romania, 56-33, in Bucharest.

The win puts Hong Kong into its highest ever finals bracket at the World Trophy, the fifth-place play-off, against Uruguay (18.00 Hong Kong time) on Sunday as the 2018 World Rugby U20 Trophy comes to a close.  Fiji and Samoa will contend for promotion to the tier one World Rugby U20 Championship in the cup final.

After mustering only 30 points in its first two matches, Hong Kong had been hunting for an offensive explosion in Romania. Complicating matters further was the fact that the backs had been notably absent from the attack ahead of the Romania tie, with most of Hong Kong’s tries coming from forward play, especially the lineout.

Fly half Paul Altier changed that trajectory early on against Romania, opening the scoring in the 7th minute with a penalty to take a 3-0 lead and start his personal point count, which would reach 36 by the final whistle including a hat trick of tries, three penalties and six conversions.  

The cagey fly-half accounted for 20 of Hong Kong’s 25 points in the first half, following up his penalty with a try in the 24th minute, clawing back the lead after the hosts had scored in the 10th minute.

Altier converted his own try and added a second penalty moments later to push the lead to 13-7 in the first quarter. He broke the game open further with his second try, a prime example of wedding attacking nous with out and out speed, as Hong Kong extended the lead to 20-7 with two minutes remaining.

Another veteran leader - co-captain Mark Coebergh, playing in his final U20s tournament for Hong Kong, contributed a powerful try in the 38th minute, shrugging off several tacklers to score a try and give his side a 25-7 lead at the break.

After conceding damaging tries to start the second halves in both of its opening matches, Hong Kong turned the tables on Romania this time. It was that man, Altier, once again doing the damage – completing his hat trick off the kick-off to widen the gap to 32-7.

With the margin growing, Hong Kong strayed from its structures for moments with form dipping as a result, allowing the Romanians to stay in contention.

Romania’s fight back started with a penalty try shortly after Altier’s opener to trim their deficit to 32-14 with 30 minutes remaining.

Both sides threw everything into the attack in the last half hour- generating six more tries before the final whistle.

Loose forward Gregor Ramage and winger Sam Down capitalised on the freewheeling patch of play to score, with Down’s try pushing the lead to 39-14 after Altier’s extras in the 60th minute. Ramage etched his name on the scoreboard five minutes later.

Altier’s conversion pushed the score to 46-14 and he brought the total to 49 points with his third penalty inside the final ten minutes.

Romania replied with two more tries in the dying moments to frustrate Hong Kong and take some gloss off of the score line before Ramage’s second try in the 77th minute – and Altier’s sixth conversion off seven attempts, saw Hong Kong run out handy winners, 56-33.

The win continues Hong Kong’s run of success against tournament hosts as the U20 Trophy, following on the side’s first ever win at this tournament over Zimbabwe in last year’s World Rugby U20 trophy in Harare.  

Hong Kong World Rugby U20 Trophy Squad v Romania:

1. Daniel HOOD, 2. TANG Man-chun, 3. Mikkel CHRISTENSEN, 4. Zachary BALDWIN, 5. James RIVERS, 6. Gregor RAMAGE, 7. Oliver OVERMAN 8. Jake BARLOW, 9. Mark COEBERGH (co-captain), 10. Paul ALTIER, 11. Sam DOWN, 12. Alex NISBET, 13. Tanadol RAE-HOWARD, 14. Shiven DUKHANDE 15. Oliver DUFFY, 16. Takamasa HOSHIYAMA, 17. Christopher LAW, 18. CHAU Siu-fung, 20.Pat LAIDLER, 21. Matthew WYATT 22. James GOSTICK, 23. Liam DOHERTY