Japan set a new record in beating the Philippines, newcomers to the Asia Five Nations competition, 121-0 in their opening Five Nations match at home in the Level 5 Stadium Fukuoka last Saturday April 20. Hong Kong also had an impressive points victory of 53-7 in an error-filled match against United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Japan continued their domination of Asian Rugby posting their 21st straight bonus points win in the competition with a masterful display of power, speed and agility to post their first win of the 2013 A5N competition. They ran in 18 tries with 14 conversions and a penalty in their record points score.
Leading by 43-0 at half time, they continued the onslaught in the second half posting a further 12 tries. It was a total team effort with 13 of the Japan team on the score sheet. Ayumu Goromaru amassed a personal tally of 36 points (1 Try, 1 Penalty and 14 Conversions) to top the Scorer’s Table.
The Hong Kong to UAE game was marred by handling errors by both sides. The poor handling was put down by UAE Coach Duncan Hall to “soapy ball” produced by the Hong Kong humidity. He admitted that the conditions had affected his players.
But for a Hong Kong side with many new faces, due to the non-availability of the Seven’s Squad who are concentrating on their London’s Sevens event on May 11-12, it was important points on the board.
It was essential to get a good start in a bid to at least stay in the Asia Five Nations to take part in the World Cup Qualifier in 2014. At the end of this 10-match series the bottom team will be relegated in favour of Sri Lanka, who will move up from Division One next year.
“I’m happy with the win, but our execution was not up to our standard,” said skipper McColl reported asian5nations.com. “We didn’t get going until the last 10 minutes of the game and I don’t want to put the blame fully on the conditions.”
Hong Kong Coach Leigh Jones confessed: “It was a disjointed effort from us, but it was to be expected,” the report said. “We had a number of new guys playing in the A5N for the first time and we were missing our sevens players, those with the X-factor.”
However, there were still some fine try scoring runs by winger Jonny Rees (2), centre Stewart Megaw (2), with Tom McColl, Ally Maclay, Matthew Lamming and Charles Cheung picking up one try each.
Chris McAdam started Hong Kong off with a successful penalty kick and then converted a Stewart Megaw try before leaving the field on the 22-minute with a rib injury. Niall Rowark took over the goal kicking and slotted over four conversions.
UAE’s try was scored by stand-in skipper Brett Williams and was converted by flyhalf James Ham.
Second Round Matches
Hong Kong have a tough match next week when they entertain Japan at the Hong Kong Football Club Ground on Saturday April 27; while Korea travel to the UAE (Al Ain) for their match on Friday April 26.
Maybe Hong Kong’s humidity will reduce the effectiveness of the Japan team and cause an upset, but Hong Kong will need to play to a much higher standard than in their match last weekend against UAE.
This televised event will be of a different class.
Hong Kong will need to cut down the errors and put together a much more co-ordinated performance if they hope to get anywhere near the Brave Blossoms.
Hong Kong’s following match week against the Philippines on Saturday May 4 will be their next important game, as their final game of the series away to Korea will also be a difficult fixture (May 18). But by then, they may be able to call on some of the Seven’s Squad if needed.
Korea, who finished second in the A5N in 2012, should post a victory against the UAE to get them on the League Table score sheet.