08 11月 2015

Hong Kong kept the door to the Olympics ajar with a third-place finish at the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier in Hong Kong, beating China 12-7 in a thrilling play-off at the Hong Kong Stadium Sunday.

With the qualifier held over two legs – the next will be in Tokyo at the end of the month – there is still hope, if results and good fortune go Hong Kong’s way.

With Japan taking the Hong Kong series with a commanding 22-0 win over Kazakhstan in the final, it will need a lot of the latter certainly, but Hong Kong coach Anna Richards was pleased with the efforts her charges put in across the whole weekend.

“I think I’ve had my heart in my mouth for most of the weekend,” she said.

“It’s been really close and I said before that there are four legitimate sides in Asia. It’s on the day. We beat China and then China beat Japan. It’s all about consistency I think and if you don’t do that over two days it is a hard tournament to win.

“[Third] gives us a mathematical chance, but a tough one. We really need to win and have other results go our way.”

Two tries from Aggie Poon Pak-yan sealed the game against China – and brought the fans to their feet. They capped a great weekend for the 25-year-old flyer who finished as the top try scorer with eight over the weekend.

Kazakhstan’s strength and height was the worrying factor going into the crunch game early in the day and they used that advantage to bundle the ball over with just 23 seconds gone.

The resilience of Richards’ squad has been showcased all weekend, however, and they fought back with a well-taken try from Ivy Kwong Sau-yan.

It was 10-5 at the break for the visitors but Hong Kong flew out in the second half to level the scores thanks to Nam Ka-man.

Two tries in a minute for the visitors settled the matter, however, and consigned Hong Kong to the third-place play-off after a 20-12 defeat.

The joy was shared in the 29-0 demolition of minnows Guam in the Hong Kong’s last pool game. Poon’s tenacity was rewarded with a brace, and Amelie Seure, Chong Ka-yan, Lai Pou-fan Stephanie Cuvelier all chipped in with a try each.

Hong Kong now heads to the second tournament of the qualifying series in Tokyo at the end of the month, where they’ll be hoping luck – and a series of upsets – go their way.