08th Jun 2024

On Saturday 8 June Hong Kong China men secured another bonus point win in this year's Asia Rugby Men’s Championship to set up a likely final-day decider with Korea back in Hong Kong in two weeks time.

- Sat 22 Jun, 16:30. Hong Kong China Men's XV vs Korea – Hong Kong Football Club Buy Tickets (HK $100)

The match was delayed by 30 minutes at the UPM Stadium in Selangor due to lightning. It was mostly a one-sided match in Hong Kong China's favour as they ran in 10 converted tries and secured the bonus point within the opening quarter of the match.

Captain Joshua Hrstich said after the 70-6 win, “It was a chaotic game with a late start and a slow start from us but it was a resilient performance.” On the weather, he added, “We wanted to be prepared for anything and we can't control the weather, so I am proud of the guy's efforts.”

Hong Kong China made seven personnel and six positional changes to their starting line-up from the victory at home over the UAE last week, with one new potential debutant, Calum Scott. The young hooker plays for the Rams in the English National One League and has previously represented England U20s. Glyn Hughes also started the game at fly-half after being a late withdrawal against the UAE.

Match Won In Chaotic First Half

Hong Kong China were forced to start under pressure as Malaysia won the kick-off and attacked which led to a 50/22 but after the opening minutes of weathering the Malaysian storm.

The forward pack laid the foundation for the win, and won numerous scrum penalties and setup tries from lineout set piece moves, but it was not always as clean as they would have liked and they left points out there too from missed lineouts and some dropped balls as they attacked the Malaysian line throughout the half. 

The first points came after repeated infringements by the home side and the third consecutive lineout led to hooker Alex Post opening the score which was successfully converted by left-wing Paul Altier (who didn't miss a kick all afternoon) in the 7th minute.

Malaysia could only muster a penalty in each half as their flyhalf, Chapman, knocked over the points but the Hong Kong China try line was seldom threatened.

The first forty minutes was not as cohesive as the coaches may have wanted, and although it was not a full 80-minute performance the win rarely looking in doubt.

A second try was a TMO decision as the Malaysian player deliberately knocked down a ball from a smart lineout move and was rewarded with a yellow card. It was 14-3 after 17 minutes but two more tries were added in quick succession with the player advantage – the first by Paul Altier and then Tyler McNutt from the restart as the bonus point was earned with the score 28-3.

The one blip in the opening half was the yellow card lock Kyle Sullivan received as Hong Kong China looked to score from a rolling maul, but he was sent to the bin for striking a Malaysian opponent, although it was deemed not forceful by the referee.

The team responded wonderfully well with a player down – first Altier getting a second try after again attacking down the left-hand side and then a 6th try of the half after yet another lineout maul attack led to captain Joshua Hrstich scoring to cap off the half with a 42-3 scoreline.

Stop-Start Second Half 

The second half was a stop-start affair but Hong Kong China started fast with dangerous runners finding holes in the Malaysian defence with Altier, Seb Brien, and Jack Neville all breaking the line repeatedly.

More tries were added by prop Solomona, a second for Hrstich, and Calum Scott scored on debut as well as showing some wonderful awareness and hands which led to the tenth and final try for Jamie Pincott and a resounding 70-6 win – amazingly all ten tries were successfully converted in the wet conditions and from a range of angles.

It was the 13th successive win over Malaysia who are yet to win a game in the ARMC and they head into a final-round match against the UAE.

Although the win away from home was not as prodigious as last year's 88-9 win in Hong Kong, its two successive bonus-point victories from the opening two rounds of ARMC 2024 that have seen the side rack up over 120 points and debut caps for four players in the senior setup.

With a potential Championship decider in the final match against Korea in a couple of weeks, Hrstich added, “The recipe won't change, we will concentrate on our performance and how we can get better over this break.”

Note: Hong Kong China has won the Asia Rugby Men’s Championship four times in a row (2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023)

Our Asia Rugby Championship match previews and reports are posted in collaboration with our good friends RugbyAsia247 – check them out for all the latest Asia Rugby news!