Hong Kong through to the World Cup repechage

The Rugby Paper - - News - By BRENDAN GAL­LAGHER

HONG KONG served no­tice that there could be a sec­ond Asian team at the World Cup Fi­nals by crush­ing the Cook Is­lands 51-0 in the sec­ond leg of their qual­i­fy­ing play-off at the Hong Kong Foot­ball club yes­ter­day.

Hav­ing won the first leg 26-3 in the Cook Is­lands less than a week ago, the Drag­ons made light of a tricky trav­el­ling sched­ule – 36 hours of fly­ing across mul­ti­ple time zones given they crossed the in­ter­na­tional date­line twice – to com­plete the two matches and fin­ish the job.

They now take their place in Novem­ber’s in­au­gu­ral round rob­bin repechage in France with an im­pres­sive six try dis­play.

Wings Yu Kam Shing and Jamie Hood scored tries, as did cen­tre Max Wood­ward while dy­namic re­place­ment hooker Alexan­der Post scored twice and there was a sec­ond half penalty try as the Hong Kong for­wards took over af­ter the break.

Even more pleas­ing for Hong Kong and their Welsh coach Leigh Jones, who was Ja­pan’s de­fence coach un­der Ed­die Jones, was how his side worked hard to avoid con­ced­ing a try­ing in ei­ther game.

The Cook Is­lands on pa­per were field­ing their strong­est side in re­cent his­tory hav­ing gath­ered their best play­ers from club rugby in New Zealand Aus­tralia and be­ing skip­pered by Sam An­der­son-Heather who cap­tained the New Zealand Bar­bar­ians against the Li­ons last year.

Over the two matches, though, they were out­classed by a well drilled Hong Kong team.

“We were out­stand­ing on the day,” said Hong Kong cap­tain and lock Jamie Cun­ning­ham.

“It’s been a mas­sive two weeks but we did what we had to do. Even this morn­ing we knew the job wasn’t done, they are a big phys­i­cal team and need con­tain­ing at all time.

“We pre­pared like any other game, took our points, built our lead and now we are head­ing to France.

“Try­ing to get to Ja­pan is an un­be­liev­able chal­lenge but I be­lieve we have got what it takes to get there and hope­fully the Hong Kong com­mu­nity will get right be­hind us be­cause we have got a team here to make them proud.

“We are still de­vel­op­ing and there is some great young tal­ent com­ing through and a few play­ers who are about to qual­ify. We have a game against West­ern Force in Au­gust which will play a big part in our prepa­ra­tion for France be­fore our do­mes­tic cham­pi­onship starts again.”

As well as Hong Kong, Canada and Germany are al­ready con­firmed for the repechage while the run­ners up of the African Gold Cup – prob­a­bly Kenya – will com­plete the line-up.

Up to this point the per­ceived wis­dom has been that Canada would win com­fort­ably, but Hong Kong’s ex­cel­lent form and their po­ten­tial to pre­pare prop­erl – the Union en­joys many more fi­nan­cial re­sources than most T2 coun­tries – could yet see them mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge.

In Africa the Gold Cup con­tin­ued apace with Kenya reel­ing off their third con­sec­u­tive win to beat Uganda 38-22 with re­place­ment prop Amusala Moses putting the seal on vic­tory when he stormed over from close range for an in­jury time try.

For much of an evenly con­tested game the Ugan- dan backs gave Kenya plenty to think about it but the win con­firms the Kenyans as the side most likely to con­test the Cham­pi­onship with Namibia who had a fal­low week this time round.

Mean­while in Tu­nisia, af­ter a frac­tious week of ac­cu­sa­tions and counter ac­cu­sa­tions over ac­com­mo­da­tion, Tu­nisa pulled off one of the most fa­mous wins in their his­tory with an 18-14 vic­tory over a dis­ap­point­ing Zim­babwe side.

Vic­tory rep­re­sents a mas­sive turn­around in for­tunes for Tu­nisia who lost their last game 118-0 against Namibia in Windhoek two weeks ago.

Now for France: Hong Kong play­ers cel­e­brate

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.