19 Jun 2016

Hong Kong made a good start to its campaign in the Olympic repechage tournament in Monaco, making it through to the quarter-finals with three wins from three games on day one.

Hong Kong beat Mexico, South Korea and Spain to finish top in pool D and set up a clash with Samoa in the next round.

Coach Gareth Baber was pleased with how his side handled the first day of competition.

“We had some good results and we’ve progressed through the day,” he said. “We didn’t have it all our own way against Mexico but we were good for the win and we were probably a bit more clinical in terms of where we need to be in the second game against Korea.

The Mexico game saw Hong Kong pull away to a 26-10 win after it was tested early. Hong Kong lead 14-5 at half-time after tries from Chris Maize and Max Woodward and two conversions from Jamie Hood. Further tries to Salom Yiu Kam-shing and Rowan Varty after the break ensured an easy win for Hong Kong.

The match against South Korea also saw tries from Yiu and Maize as Hong Kong coasted to a 19-7 victory, while Tom McQueen got on the scoreboard with the opening try of the game. It was all one-way traffic for the majority of the encounter, with Hong Kong running in the first three tries – two of which were converted by Hood – to open up a 19-point margin.

The match against Spain took on a very similar look, with Hong Kong again dominant in a 19-0 win that saw Michael Coverdale score a try. Both Tom and Alex McQueen also scored tries, while Hood booted two successful conversions.

“We were good against Spain and worked hard,” said Baber. “We were organised and brave in what we did and when we did have the ball we took the opportunities we had.”

After holding a narrow 7-0 lead at the break, Hong Kong took control in the second period to cap a near perfect day.

They will need to be at their best to beat HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series side Samoa and stay alive in the tournament.

“We’ve got to look after ourselves and make sure we are healthy,” Baber said. “They’re a physical side. We will try and be as realistic we can and make sure we prepare exactly as we prepare for every game.”

All of Hong Kong’s squad got through the first day of play unscathed and Baber is confident the three games his side has played already will hold them in good stead in the finals.

“Obviously you never quite know where you are and how you are pitching up against the opposition you play, but the games got progressively harder throughout the day,” he said.

Ireland finished first in pool A and take on Spain in the quarter-finals, Germany topped pool B and will face Chile and Russia head pool C and front up against Canada.