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Hong Kong Wins HSBC Asian Sevens Series Bangkok Sevens

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Hong Kong swept to an emphatic 31-0 victory over Japan in the Cup final at the Bangkok Sevens on Sunday.

Hong Kong fly-half Keith Robertson bagged a hat-trick while Anthony Haynes and Ross Armour also crossed the line as Hong Kong dominated a Japanese outfit missing their top players who were on national duty at the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.

Robertsons three tries and three conversions accounted for 21 of Hong Kongs 31 points in the final.

This is a great performance from us. While Japan might not have had their best side out here, they have great depth and this team is made up of fulltime professionals. It is always satisfying to beat them, said Hong Kong National Coach, Dai Rees.

Hong Kong, who had been dominant in throughout the tournament, swept into the cup final with wins over Laos (43-0) in the quarter- finals and Thailand (29-14) in the semi-finals. In a re-match of Saturdays pool play, Thailand was again the only team in the tournament to manage to put points on the board. Over the weekend Hong Kong racked up an impressive tally of 254 points for and just 21 against.

Japan had booked their berth in the Cup by defeating the Philippines 38-5 in the quarterfinals and Malaysia 31-0 in the semi-finals.

The tournament, postponed from last November due to the floods which hit many parts of Thailand last year, has given Hong Kong a rare chance at playing competitively before their home event the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on 23-25 March 2012.

This is the perfect build-up. We are now six weeks ahead from where we were last year as far as our preparations are concerned. But we wont get carried away, even though it is morale-boosting, Rees said.

With the International Rugby Board using the Hong Kong Sevens as a qualifier to decide the three new teams that will become core teams in the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2012-13, the pressure is on Hong Kong who will be in with a chance in front of their partisan support at the Hong Kong Stadium next month.

Rees said, It has been a very good season for us considering that we won two HSBC Asian Sevens Series tournaments, Goa and Bangkok, finished runners-up in Shanghai and third in Borneo to be ranked number two behind Japan.

The other finals on Sunday proved equally exciting with the Bangkok Sevens attracting several of the up and coming teams in Asian sevens.

In a tight plate final, Malaysia edged the hosts Thailand after being drawn 7-7 at the half. It wasnt until the 14th minute that Malaysia dashed the hopes of the home supporters with a converted try that put them onto the winners podium 14-7.

The two teams making their debut on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, Laos and Pakistan, reached the Bowl final ahead of more experienced teams. After posting 10 points against Japan to open their HSBC Asian Sevens Series history, Laos recorded several creditable performances. Their run to the Bowl saw them upset the higher-seeded Philippines 17-10 in Sundays Bowl semi final.

Pakistan, also on its Series debut and with eight new caps in the side, lost its captain Umer Butt and most experienced sevens player to injury in the 29-12 semi-final win over UAE Shaheen. Laos quickly turned Pakistans lack of experience to their advantage recording a resounding 38-5 win to take home the Bowl on their first ever competition on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series.

Laos Japanese coach Katsuo Masa, who has only been training the team for 20 days, was proud of the teams performance, saying, I am very pleased. Each game of the tournament we improved and it was exciting to see their mindset change over the weekend, from hoping to win to expecting to win. I think if Laos continues to work on their fundamentals and puts greater resources and time into training we can come back and contest Plate competitions next year on the Series.

After losing to Pakistan in the Bowl semi-final, UAE advanced to the Shield to face off against the Philippines. The Shaheen are a developmental side composed of purely Emirati players who represent the next generation for the rugby in that region.

The Philippines, also fielding a developmental squad, lead 17-5 at the mid-point of the second half before the UAE Shaheen roared back with two tries and two successful conversions to tie the match at 17-all in the 12th minute. The Shaheen placed a final flourish on the match in the 14th minute as they touched down at the buzzer to claim the Shield 22-17.

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