07th Jul 2024

World Rugby U20 Trophy

Tuesday 2 July: Japan 105-20 Hong Kong China

Sunday 7 July: Scotland 101-0 Hong Kong China

Friday 12 July: Samoa vs Hong Kong China (11:45 local time / 18:45 HKT)

Wednesday 17 July: Knockout Stage (match TBD)

Match Report - Scotland 101-0 Hong Kong China

Hong Kong China U20s faced another tough opponent in the second match of the World Rugby U20 Trophy at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on Sunday 7 July, which was also the first time these two sides had ever faced each other. 

Ominously, although Hong Kong China had lost to the Japanese 105-20, Scotland had won by an even bigger margin of 123-15 over Samoa to set a new tournament score record.

Hong Kong China U20s Head Coach Joe Barker said following the loss to Japan that they were seeking an 80-minute performance in this tournament, and although the side ventured into the Scots 22m area several times, they couldn't convert opportunities against a powerful Scots side and failed to score in the 101-0 loss.

Siân Moore, who is HKCR Head of Performance Pathways, said in the buildup to the game that the mood in camp had been positive. “We have a special group of players that are focused on getting better every day and a group of staff that are doing a great job to create learning opportunities that maximise player development.”

Of the value for the players to be exposed to top-level competitors, she added, “This is only the second campaign that the majority of the group have been together. They are building in cohesion and there is a lot more to come from this exciting group.”

Hong Kong China Fullback, James Kee, also commented on what it means to be part of the group playing at the tournament, “Participating in this tournament is an incredible honour and opportunity for myself and the boys. Growing up as a passionate fan of the sport in Hong Kong, it fills me with immense pride to now have the chance to represent Hong Kong and compete against some very strong teams from around the world - this will definitely result with both rugby and personal development."

Talking of his experience on the tour as a whole, he added, “The hospitality we've received has been outstanding, and it's allowed us to fully embrace and enjoy our time in this beautiful country. Just as meaningful has been the opportunity to further bond as a team. Many of us have grown up playing against each other in Hong Kong, so to now call these lads my teammates and lifelong brothers is really special. The camaraderie and unity we're building through this competition is invaluable.”

Scotland Dominant in Opening Half

Scotland opened the scoring early to lead 7-0 in overcast and blustery conditions in front of a good crowd at the stadium which sits in the shadows of Murrayfield.

Despite the heavy opening loss to Japan, the young Hong Kong China side never gave up and they had attacking opportunities against the Scots too but couldn't quite convert the pressure. In the 8th minute, they opted for a shot at the posts but Blake Elliot just pushed the kick wide.

This was followed by a period of Scottish dominance who ran in a further seven tries in the half.

Hong Kong China made some small errors and had their ball turned over to let Scotland release the defensive pressure. The first scrum showed the hosts would enjoy some dominance in the set piece as well.

Fullback James Kee had to clear the lines several times while the pack struggled to contain the powerful Scots. The speed of the ball from Scotland and powerful runners were at times proving to be too much.

The regular Scottish scores were punctuated by more missed chances for Hong Kong China who were unable to convert good periods of attacking pressure. Being clinical in those areas will be one of the key tournament learnings.

The Scottish lineout mauls were also a threat, the Japanese had clinically utilised them too, and the Scottish were able to score as they entered the Hong Kong China red zone by stretching the defence from side-to-side.

Hong Kong China again attacked in the final minutes of the half, which led to the Scottish left-wing receiving a yellow card for a tackle without the ball. 

This gave a prime opportunity to score close to the break but Scotland stopped the driving maul and won a scrum penalty again to clear their defensive lines. In the final moments the Scottish right-wing secured a first-half hat trick as they went into the break 52-0 ahead.

Second Half Showed Signs of Improvement

Despite the extra player due to the Scottish sin bin, it was the hosts who extended the lead in the half to 59-0.

Hong Kong China had a period of dominance again in the Scots 22m within the opening ten minutes of the half but really aggressive defence kept out red waves of attacks from the side, who were playing in their alternative kit as home side Scotland wore blue.

Eventually, it was again the Scottish pack that won the penalty to relieve the pressure as they returned to a full complement of 15 and immediately scored their tenth try after a loose pass.

The half lost some of its continuity as both sides were disruptive but the Scots were able to add further tries while Hong Kong China continued to struggle to convert territory and opportunities into points, but were far better in their defensive tackles and as they won turnovers.

Six more tries followed as Scotland broke the century mark in the final minute following good phase play to win 101-0, scoring 15 tries with 13 successful conversions in the match.

Moore said after the Scotland loss, “This is the pinnacle of all age-grade systems. To play against top-tier rugby nations such as Japan, who were competing at the Championship level last season, and Scotland who have exposure to a heavy annual calendar is invaluable for the squad. We want to test ourselves against the best and we’ve definitely had that opportunity within the last two games.”

Samoa Awaits in Final Pool Game

The main difference in this contest was the speed of the ball and the turnovers, while the lineout failed to fire for Hong Kong China. If they can rectify these, the final pool match vs Samoa on Friday 12 July (18:45 HKT) should be a tighter contest especially after a narrow 30-27 loss last year.

“We’re looking forward to the physical confrontation that Samoa’s game is based around. It’s a target game for us and will be a real marker to see our progress within 12 months,” added Moore.

Our Asia Rugby Championship match previews and reports are posted in collaboration with our good friends at RugbyAsia247 – check them out for all the latest Asia Rugby news!