Hong Kong, powered by a lethal backline, fired a
clear warning to their rivals in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top 5
competition after they swept to a convincing 85-10 victory over
the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on Friday.
Winger Rowan Varty grabbed four tries
while inside centre Ally Maclay scored a hat-trick as the
rampaging Hong Kong three-quarters accounted for a dozen of the 14
tries the visitors helped themselves to as they got their campaign
off to a sound start.
Hong Kong, runners-up last year, has set their
sights on upsetting the Asian apple cart by toppling perennial
champions Japan. But despite the glut of tries, Hong Kong senior
coach Leigh Jones warned that his side would have to step it up
against South Korea, Japan and Kazakhstan.
“The scoreline flattered us. We have plenty of
work to do,” said Jones. “But this win will give us confidence as
we look ahead to South Korea next week.”
It was the biggest win by Hong Kong in the
history of the HSBC Asian Five Nations, bettering last season’s
62-3 victory over the same opponents.
While Varty and Maclay collected half of the 14
tries between them, second-half substitute Alex McQueen also came
to the party, scoring a brace. Keith Robertson, Salom Yiu
Kam-shing and Lee Jones also made merry. The only two tries scored
by the forwards were by No 8 Pale Tauti and substitute Rory
“We have a gifted set of backs and we knew they
would be dangerous. This is the type of rugby we want to play and
it was great to see Rowan score four tries,” Jones said.
Left winger Varty, captain of the national
sevens team, set the ball rolling for Hong Kong when he grabbed a
brace of tries inside the opening five minutes of the first half
for the visitors to strike a psychological blow.
The first score was the outcome of some good
work from inside centre Lee Jones who charged down a hasty
clearance before popping a pass to flyhalf Keith Robertson who
then put Varty in the clear.
Varty showed his superb finishing skills a
couple of minutes later receiving a pass from fullback Ross Armour
to stroll over for a try. Robertson then got into the act to
complete a move started by winger Salom Yiu Kam-shing, who made a
strong break down the right touchline.
The rest of the first half belonged to outside
centre Ally Maclay as he collected a hat-trick of tries in 10
minutes. The 110-kilogram centre was unstoppable as Hong Kong
piled on the points rushing to a 39-3 lead with the home team’s
only answer being a penalty from flyhalf Andrew Russell, brother
of former Springbok Brent.
UAE skipper and No.8 Alistair Thompson finally
gave the home team something to smile about just before the break
when from a five-metre scrum he barged over close to the posts
despite the close attentions of two defenders.
UAE trailed 39-10 at halftime and would have
hoped the try by Thompson would be just what they needed to spark
a fightback. But Hong Kong soon resumed normal service, running in
a further eight tries from all parts of the park.
Jones used his full bench, giving all 22 players
in the squad a chance to show what they had.
“It was a good effort individually by the
players but as far as team effort was concerned, we were lacking.
This is something we will have to work on. We need to improve
everywhere,” Jones added.
UAE Coach Duncan Hall commented on the loss
saying, “Hong Kong are a very very good team. I don’t think we
underestimated them but you can’t coach speed. They were able to
get that ball wide and we don’t have that.”
UAE captain Alistair Thompson said, “That’s a
proven team in Hong Kong we played today while Japan may be a bit
unsettled. They are building towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015
so it will be an interesting game to see how they go against each
other. As for us, we have to move on now. It wasn’t a perfect
performance by any means but we showed a lot of improvement from
the last time we played Hong Kong in December. We have another
test next week and the games just seem to get harder.”
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