Clean Sweep for Hong Kong in Asia Rugby Sevens Series
Hong Kong completed a hat-trick of wins to clinch the Asia Rugby Sevens Series title by winning the final event of the series that took place in Sri Lanka last weekend, Oct 15-16.
Winning the Asia Sevens Series secures Hong Kong’s place in the international qualifier to be played as part of next April’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and earns the team the 16th place at the Singapore Sevens a week later. Finishing 3rd in this event but 2nd in the series, Sri Lanka, will take the other qualification place in Hong Kong.
On the first day in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong finished top of Pool-A winning matches against Japan (31-12) and South Korea (26-15) but losing to Malaysia (19-14). South Korea also won 2 of their 3 matches to be level with Hong Kong on points but took 2nd in the group, based on the head to head result. China won all 3 matches to head Pool-B, with Sri Lanka taking 2nd place.
Hong Kong played Sri Lanka in the semi-finals winning 19-7 but this match against Sri Lanka was not easy. Sri Lanka scored first for 7-0 but Hong Kong responded with a try by Max Woodward to level the scores at7-7. Half time was particularly welcome as fast end to end action was taking its toll.
In the 2nd half, Sri Lanka had an early chance for a try but were pulled back for “foot in touch”. Good play from a line out in the Sri Lankan 22 put Salom Yiu on course for the line, he sidestepped an opposing defender to make the score 12-7. Towards the end of the match a Woodward score converted by Ben Rimene gave Hong Kong a 19-7 win.
In the other semi, Korea beat China 19-14 to take their place in the final. China went on to edge Sri Lanka in the 3-4 playoff 22-21.
The final was a thrilling end to end match but Hong Kong went over for 2 opportunistic tries against 1 for South Korea for 14-7 score at half time. After the break, Korean speedman Chang Yong-heung scored by catching his own chip and run for 12-14. Hong Kong youngster Jason Jeyam collected a ball from the back of a ruck, took the blind side and raced to score for 19-12. Korea hit back to scored and convert, to level at 19 all. Jason Jeyam again played an important role close to the whistle to put Chris Maze over for the 24-19 win.
The Series final standings: Hong Kong (36 points), Sri Lanka (27), South Korea (26), China (22). Malaysia and Japan (11), Taiwan 8 and Singapore (6).
In the women’s series Hong Kong came 4th in Sri Lanka and 3rd behind Japan and China in the series standings.