29 May 2019

It was a tough day at the office for Hong Kong yesterday in Fiji when they lost the second match of their Pacific tour 34-15 to Samoa.

Bolstered by an influx of New Zealand-based players as they begin their own march towards qualification for the 2021 Rugby World Cup, Samoa ran rampant over Hong Kong in the early going, scoring four tries in the first quarter en route to a comfortable win.

Winger Bena Yu scored a brace for Hong Kong, with tries in either half, her first tally sending Hong Kong into half-time trailing 25-5.

An improved performance in the second half saw Hong Kong hold the Samoans to an additional 9 points while scoring twice more down the stretch, with Yu collecting her second and replacement Winnie Siu scoring a consolation try in the final minute, to bring the final to 34-15.

After beating Fiji, having to back up for a second crunch match, just four days later and against rested and physically imposing opponents from Samoa, was always going to be a tough ask – and so it proved.

But Hong Kong’s objectives were always bigger than wins and losses and the campaign’s bigger targets have been met.

 “It was a tough game,” said national coach Jo Hull.

“Samoa were individually very strong and skillful and we made too many unforced errors and gifted them three or four tries and allowed them to get an early lead. We played well against Fiji, but it was too much to ask with the back to back games in four days.”

Hong Kong will now need to wait on the result between Fiji and Samoa on Saturday to determine their overall standings, but the target for growth has already been achieved for Hull.

“It’s been an excellent tour and having the squad together for ten days is an incredible opportunity for us as coaches and for the players. These girls work full-time and then come down at night to train and they have taken advantage of every minute of this opportunity to be professional players and be immersed in that high performance environment for 10 days.

“Ahead of the tour, we said we needed to see growth and they have really grown on and off the pitch.”

The tour also provided an opportunity to integrate another wave of new players into the international squad with nine capped in Fiji, while providing the coaching team a chance to scrutinize the group in a high-pressure environment.

“After this tour, we have nine new players in the international squad. The young players really adapted well into the environment and we have been able to look at everyone in the squad. Some put their hands up while others struggled but this group proved it belongs here and needs to be tested more at this level and kept together to prepare for Rugby World Cup qualification.

“Samoa showed us that we need to continue to work on our ability to play under pressure and develop our ability to take control of the game at critical times. Now, we need to keep identifying talent and keep exposing them to situations like this.

“The new caps are now equipped with the experience needed to compete in this environment. They understand the team expectations but also the performance level required in test rugby, something they do not experience in Hong Kong. They also understand they have a personal responsibility to take that lesson back to Premiership rugby and to continue to lift the local game.

“We are only 12 months out from the qualifier and two years away from the World Cup. To get there we have to be able to beat these kinds of teams and to do that we have to lift the intensity of our local game,” Hull added.

Hong Kong Touring Squad: Kelsie BOUTTLE, Riva BRILL*, CHAN Hiu-tung*, CHAN Ka-yan, CHEUNG Shuk-han, CHOW Mei-nam, LAU Nga-wun, Iris LAM Tim-yeung, Vincci LEUNG Wing-yi, Charlotte MYRANS, PUN Wai-yan, Winnie SIU Wing-ni, Dr Karen SO Hoi-ting (Captain), TSANG Ching-man, WONG Kai-ying*, YIP Cho-kwan, Abigail CHN, RACHEL FONG, Jessica HO Wai-on, Rose HOPEWELL-FONG, FUNG Hoi-ching*, LIU Yuen-ting*, Amy PYLE, Zoe SMITH*, Colleen TJOSVOLD, Bena YU Bo-yan.

* New caps