13 Dec 2015

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) U19s side opened their defence of the Asia Rugby U19s Championship in fine fashion with a 78-12 win over third seeds Chinese Taipei.

The bonus point victory has Hong Kong atop the table on five points after the first round as they seek to claim their third consecutive Asian U19s title and qualify for the World Rugby U20 Trophy next year in Zimbabwe.

Chinese Taipei had no answer for Hong Kong in sodden conditions in Singapore, conceding six tries and 42 points in the first half alone. Hong Kong would eventually tally 11 tries on the day, led by Matt Worley and Hugo Chui Ho Ching, each with two.

It was the Hugo Stiles and Matt Worley show in the first half as the two combined to give Hong Kong a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes.

Worley’s first try came off the kick-off when he capitalized on some poor defence to touch down in the corner. A great half-break from Stiles moments later put Worley through for his second of the match.

That set the tone for the opening half as Hong Kong’s tries came in frequent intervals over the next 30 minutes. Winger Austin Robertshaw, lock Alex Horne, wing Hugo Chui Ho Ching and lock Cheung Ho Yin added tries in the first half to put the game out of reach.

Stiles was nearly perfect with the boot today, notching six of six conversions to put Hong Kong ahead 42-0 at the break. Stiles finished the afternoon ten of eleven from his conversion attempts, and added a late try in the second half to bring his personal tally to 27 points this afternoon. Worley opened the second half with a drop goal, giving him 13 points on the day.

It was more of the same in the second half, with Hong Kong crossing over for five more tries, along with Worley’s drop goal to open the second stanza. Hugo Chui picked up his second try shortly after Worley’s drop goal, while reserve forward Jonathan Healy scored with his first touch of the ball after coming on in the 52nd minute.

Healy showed good instincts to support Stiles who collected the ball cleanly from a pretty chip and chase before being brought down just short of the line. His pop up pass from the floor putting Healy through cleanly.

Ben Schats and Mak Kwai Ching scored late tries on either side of a try from Hugo Stiles, a well-deserved reward for the fly half who superbly commanded Hong Kong’s offensive performance this afternoon.

Taipei responded gamely in the second half, staunching the Hong Kong attack and scoring two tries in the final quarter, both of which came off scrums deep in Hong Kong territory.

Despite the slick conditions, Hong Kong put on a great display of running rugby with support players flocking to the ball in an impressive all-around performance. The forwards completely negated Chinese Taipei’s eight on the afternoon yielding consistent possession and territorial advantage to Hong Kong throughout the opening match. The only black mark on the impressive performance was some inconsistencies at the lineout, which the coaching team will certainly address before Hong Kong’s second match.

Hong Kong will play last year’s runners-up Sri Lanka on Wednesday, in what should prove the toughest challenge of the defence attempt, before taking on promoted Singapore in the final round. That match will kick off at 14.30 on Wednesday.