28th Nov 2015

The Hong Kong Women’s Seven had a tough outing on day one in Tokyo, losing crucial matches to Japan (5-27) and Kazakhstan (5-29) in the first day of the final stage of the Asia Rugby Olympic qualifiers. The competition’s format, which has all six participating teams in a single pool, sees day two’s finals placings determined directly by pool results.

Japan and Kazakhstan, the winners and runners-up in the opening leg of the Olympic qualifier held in Hong Kong, emerged undefeated from day one. Those results will likely put the finals beyond reach for Hong Kong, barring an upset in the final pool round tomorrow when Japan and Kazakhstan play the fifth and sixth seeds Guam and Sri Lanka respectively, before playing each other in the last pool match ahead of the finals.

On present form, that match could preview the final, which Kazakhstan would need to win to keep their hopes of a direct Olympic berth alive.

China also struggled on day one, dropping its opening match to Japan 7-20 before losing to Kazakhstan 14-0, further damping Hong Kong’s hopes as China were the only other side outside of the leaders capable of shaking up the standings.

Slow starts were the problem for Hong Kong. That trend started in the opening match when Guam dominated possession and territory against the third seeds overall for nearly the entire first half. Late first half tries from captain Christy Cheng Ka Chi and vice captain Natasha Olson-Thorne righted the ship and set the platform for the final half when Aggie Poon Pak Yan, Stephanie Cuvelier, Amelie Seure and Chong Ka Yan all scored. Poon added three conversions with Lai Pou Fan adding one.

Another slow start proved lethal against Kazakhstan who mounted their finest performance of the season with a 29-5 win. With size and pace across the side, Kazakhstan put on a display, suffocating Hong Kong of any possession and scoring three tries before the break to take a 19-0 lead.

Kazakhstan maintained the pressure in the second half, scoring twice after the break, but most of their work came in defence of the lead, with Hong Kong having the lion’s share of possession. Late in the match Hong Kong began to string together consistent and structured phase play that rattled the Kazakh defence. Hong Kong scored a consolation try at the hooter with Amelie Seure finishing off a good period of offensive pressure with her second try of the day.

Hong Kong dropped its final match of the day to Japan but played its best rugby. After going down 5-0 early on, Aggie Poon Pak Yan leveled the scores after capitalizing on broken play to score in the corner. Japan’s second try came from a well-worked move at the base of a scrum that outfoxed the Hong Kong defence putting Mifuyu Koide over untouched. Hong Kong conceded a third try late in the half after having a player down with injury for the last minute leaving them outnumbered.

The Sakura Sevens were superb in defence in the second half keeping Hong Kong off the board while adding two more tries to win convincingly.

Hong Kong will play China and Sri Lanka in the final pool rounds tomorrow.