13 Oct 2018

The Hong Kong men’s and women’s sevens squads held form on the opening day of the Sri Lanka Sevens, the finale of the 2018 Asia Rugby Sevens Series. The men, in second place on the series at present, beat their first up challengers in Chinese Taipei and China to top the pool overnight, while the fourth-ranked women’s team finished the two opening pool matches with one win and one loss.


Ahead of the tournament, women’s sevens coach Kevin West had counseled that his side would need a strong defensive effort against an unpredictable Sri Lanka seven before they would be able to bring their attack into play.  

The squad delivered on that formula holding the hosts scoreless in a statement win to open their tournament. Sri Lanka had plenty of ball to work with in the opening stages, but were frustrated in their efforts to find channels out wide by Hong Kong’s superior structure, fitness and line speed.  

Both teams covered a massive amount of ground in the opening half, but neither could convert their opportunities with two sure scoring chances for Hong Kong marred by the final passes going to ground.  

Hong Kong were the more patient side and eventually took their opportunity at the hooter when Chong Ka-yan found space outside for a 50-metre attack that was pulled down within reach of Sri Lanka’s line.  Good support play produced the ball for Ivy Kwong Sau-yan out wide.

With support on her outside shoulder Kwong opted for a quick show and go to cross for the try with Aggie Poon adding the conversion to take a 7-0 lead at the break.

The second half saw Hong Kong gain momentum, with their fitness coming to the fore over seven minutes and four tries as the ladies ran out 29-0 winners. Second half tries came from Natasha Olson-Thorne, Stephanie Chan, a second from Kwong, and Lindsay Varty, who scored on her first touch of the ball after coming back from injury.

The result over Sri Lanka was a key test for Hong Kong’s chances to advance to the cup semi finals for a third straight tournament tomorrow.  Hong Kong’s second match, against Japan, would determine whether Hong Kong would overnight on top of the pool or not.

Ahead of the weekend, West had indicated that a win over one of the three sides ranked immediately above Hong Kong on the table, would be an ideal way to close out the campaign.

Japan, undefeated on the series to date and the winner of both previous cup finals, would certainly qualify in that rank, but Hong Kong’s chance would have to wait for at least another day as they lost 31-7.

Hong Kong fought gamely in the first half, falling 12-0 behind before Chong Ka-yan scored from an outstanding solo effort to cut Japan’s lead to 12-7 at the break. Three unanswered tries in the second half ultimately pushed Hong Kong into second place in the pool with a final pool match tomorrow against South Korea at 1.36pm Hong Kong time.

Despite introducing a raft of new faces into the squad for this weekend’s tournament, the men’s seven picked up where they left off after reaching the finals in both Hong Kong and South Korea. The men marched through an all-China day one in Sri Lanka, with a 71-5 win over Chinese Taipei, followed by a 47-5 drubbing of China in the late match.

Raef Morrison ran in four tries against Chinese Taipei – converting two, to contribute 24 points to the kitty, while Liam Herbert and Tomasi Lawa both added braces.  Jamie Hood, Lee Jones and Max Denmark all added tries as Hong Kong took a ruthless approach to stockpiling points on day one.

Hong Kong jumped out to a 28-0 lead at half time against China, with Kane Boucaut, Jamie Hood, Max Denmark and Raef Morrison scoring out of the gates.  

Hood scored late in the half to bring the first half total to 37-0 after the first stanza with Hong Kong running in two tries down the stretch in a 47-7 win.

All in, Hong Kong amassed 118 points on day one, conceding just 12.  On the other side of the bracket, Japan did the same posting 101 points over their two matches today.  

The two sides have met in both of the first two cup finals on the series, with Japan sweeping Hong Kong, and are likely on another collision path to tomorrow’s final.

But first Hong Kong will have to pass what is expected to be a massive test against hosts Sri Lanka, presently fourth on the series, in their final pool match tomorrow at 2.42pm Hong Kong time