11th Mar 2024

The Hong Kong China Rugby representative sevens squads continued their strong performances at the HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series tournament in Uruguay.  The men are unbeaten after two days, and advanced to the semi finals versus Kenya – runners-up in the opening tournament.  The women notched a second pool win over Papua New Guinea before being edged out in the quarterfinals by Uganda in a 17-minute battle.  Both sides will play Kenya in their opening matches on day three.


On day two, the men dispatched Mexico in their final pool game, 39-0.  Six players scored with Harry Sayers leading the way with a brace.  Fong Kit-Fung, Liam Doherty, Hugo Stiles, Callum McCullough and Seb Brien all added scores.  Hong Kong finished atop Pool B with a perfect 3-0 record and a +100 points differential, the best in the competition, setting up a quarter final with Tonga.  


A tight first half saw the first openings when Tonga’s Walter Fifita was shown a yellow card.  Cado Lee pressed home the advantage with his first try in the sixth minute.  Max Denmark added a crucial try (his fourth of the tournament) before half-time to push Hong Kong’s lead to 12-0 after Hugo Stiles’ conversions.  Lee scored his second of the match shortly after play resumed, followed by Liam Herbert in the 12th minute to push the ticker to 26-0, before a Tongan consolation try brought the final to 26-7.


Hong Kong will now play Kenya in the second semifinal at 0302 Monday morning.   The other semifinal is an all South American affair between Chile and Uruguay.  


“It has been a pleasing day one and two, and the boys are looking forward to Kenya” said Hong Kong China men’s sevens coach Jevon Groves. 


“It was hot today but the boys did very well to deal with the conditions, it is a tribute to their professionalism. 


“Against Tonga we were focused on negating their physicality. The boys played very well in the contact area and in our tackle defence, which set up some nice tries for us in transition.


“Kenya were a bit inconsistent in pool play but they had a good win in the quarterfinal. They have a lot of speed, pace and power. We need to match their physicality and impose our ability to move the ball into space where we can. 


“We are utilizing the full 12 man squad, and the guys that have been coming on have been finishing strong and have made a big difference in closing out games,” said Groves, who also nodded to the side’s halfbacks, Lee and Stiles, and the team’s top try scorer Denmark for their impact so far. 

The Hong Kong, China women’s seven strong run for the Cup came to an end in the quarterfinals stage in a 17-minute battle with Uganda.  After starting the weekend with an upset of Kenya, Hong Kong lost to Belgium but beat Papua New Guinea 27-14 to finish second in the pool.  


Julia Mba Oyana scored two quick fire tries to give Hong Kong a 12-0 lead against Papua New Guinea after four minutes, but they came back with two tries of their own in the latter part of the half to draw the scores at 12-all at the break.  In the second half Hong Kong reasserted control to finish with tries to Chong Ka Yan, Au Yeung Sin Yi and captain Natasha Olson Thorne to run out 27-12 winners. 


The quarterfinal with Uganda was another arm wrestle.  Hong Kong had an excellent start after Chong Ka Yan scored in the opening minute, with Vivian Poon’s conversion bringing the lead to 7-0.  Uganda replied in the fourth minute, before a try from Olson Thorne extended Hong Kong’s lead 12-5 into halftime.  


Lydia Namabiro scored two tries in the second half as Uganda took the lead for the first time 17-12 after 11 minutes.  Nam Ka Man clawed Hong Kong back into it a minute later with a try to level the scores at 17-all.  That set the stage for a frenetic finish that saw yellow cards given to each team and play pass the 17 minute marker before Agnes Nakuya broke Hong Kong hearts with a try to give Uganda a 22-17 win. 


Hong Kong, China women will have a rematch with Kenya at 03.37am Monday in the seventh place playoff.  


Hong Kong, China Men’s Seven for World Rugby Challenger Series (Montevideo):  Seb BRIEN (Captain); James CHRISTIE; Max DENMARK; Liam DOHERTY; FONG Kit-Fung; Liam HERBERT; LEE Ka-to, Cado; Callum McCULLOUGH; Alessandro NARDONI; Bryn PHILLIPS; Harry SAYERS; Hugo STILES.


Hong Kong, China Women’s Sevens Squad for World Rugby Challenger Series (Montevideo):  Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Captain); AU YEUNG Sin Yi; BALTAZAR, Chloe; BALTAZAR, Micayla; CHAN Tsz Ching; CHONG Ka Yan; FORREST, Shanna; FUNG Hoi Ching, Jasmine; NAM Ka Man; Julia MBA OYANA; POON Hoi Yan, Vivian; Gabriella RIVERS.