11th Mar 2024

The Hong Kong China Rugby men’s and women’s sevens squads had a positive opening to the second of three HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series events in Uruguay overnight.


The women shocked Kenya in their first match of the tournament as they pitched a shut-out over the runners-up at the opening tournament in Dubai in January, 12-0, behind two tries from captain Natasha Olson-Thorne and some tenacious defence.


Hong Kong could not maintain the momentum in their second match of the day losing to a physical Belgium seven, 24-5.  


Hong Kong held off some furious attacks from Belgium for most of the opening frame but allowed two late tries near half-time to trail 12-0 at the break.  The Belgians struck twice again midway through the second stanza to push the lead to 24-0 before Gabriella Rivers managed a consolation try for Hong Kong.  She missed her conversion as Belgium ran out 24-5 winners.


Hong Kong were in second in Pool B overnight with a final pool match on Saturday in Montevideo against Papua New Guinea at 22.59 Saturday evening Hong Kong time.


The men managed an even more challenging task with aplomb.  The day started with a hammering of rugby rivals Japan with one of the highest winning margins ever seen in matches between the teams as Hong Kong ran out 42-7 winners.  


Liam Doherty opened the scoring in just the second minute with Hugo Stiles’ slotting the conversion for a 7-0 lead.  Cado Lee, Max Denmark and Seb Brien added tries down the half with Stiles keeping his conversion streak alive, as Hong Kong led 28-0 at the break.  


Lee and Brien added scores in the final half with Stiles and Bryn Phillips each slotting a conversion before Japan managed a consolation try to close out the game, 42-7.


Hong Kong then dispatched Chile, runners-up in Dubai last month, 19-14, behind a hat trick of tries from Max Denmark and the boot of Hugo Stiles.


Denmark continued the trend of strong starts for Hong Kong as he scored his first after just one minute with Stiles converting.  Chile struck back in the fifth minute to level the scores, then took the lead into the break 14-7 with a second try before half-time. 


Denmark broke through again in the eighth minute to score.  Stiles’ second conversion drew the match at 14-all with a tense battle ensuing in the final minutes before Denmark donned the heroes cap once again, scoring in the 14thminute to carry Hong Kong to victory. 


Hong Kong China men’s captain Seb Brien said: “We’re really pleased to start with two wins. It was always going to be tough against Japan, we play them a lot and amazing to get one up on Chile too. We’ll go home tonight happy with day but it all really counts towards the quarter-final which our next aim.


“We have the belief to go all the way. Obviously the last tournament was a bit disappointing so we’re just taking it every game as it comes and we’ll build through the knock-outs and hope to go all the way to the final.”


Hong Kong topped Pool B overnight on six points ahead of Chile (four) and Japan (three) and with one more game remaining against Mexico on Saturday (00.40 on Sunday).


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.