Hong Kong ran in half-a-dozen tries but missed
scoring at least six more as they defeated Sri Lanka 41-10 to stay
unbeaten in the ARFU Asian Five Nations and maintain course to
grabbing the repechage spot in the 2015 IRB Rugby World Cup
Earlier on Saturday afternoon in Laguna, Philippines,
Japan opened their Rugby World Cup qualifier campaign with an
emphatic 99-10 win over the host Volcanoes.
In Colombo, poor handling left Hong Kong ruing a
number of missed opportunities leaving head coach Leigh Jones frustrated as he contemplates next week’s weighty challenge of
taking on South Korea at home.
"Our set piece won’t win us the game next week.
It has got us out of trouble for the past two weeks but we need to
raise our performance levels in a number of areas,” Jones warned.
And his biggest concern is at the breakdown where Sri Lanka
troubled his forwards.
Hong Kong’s heavier pack ruled the
scrums and the lineouts to win plenty of ball, which they put to
good use in the first half running in four tries to lead 29-0. But
they couldn’t sustain that sound start as Sri Lanka came back
strongly, countering Hong Kong’s scoring 12-10 in the second half.
“I’m very proud of my guys. They played their hearts out,”
said Sri Lanka captain Namal Rajapaksa. “Unfortunately we couldn’t win the set-pieces with their pack outweighing us by 100
kilos and we were left on the back foot defending. But we
showed a lot of courage and showed that nothing is impossible.
Just look at what Hong Kong did to the Philippines last week
[winning 108-0] and if you consider that and the fact that we were
playing against a more experienced team, I’m very happy with our
Hong Kong prop Leon Wei Hon-sum
picked up a first-half brace, the first from a powerful forwards
drive while the second was scored with a degree of nonchalance.
After receiving a pass 10 metres from the line, Wei shrugged off
two defenders to plant the try under the post.
between Wei’s two tries was a neat move from the backs with
fullback Tom McColl touching down after getting an inside pass
from Rowan Varty.
Flanker Matt Lamming added the fourth just
before halftime, this one also from close range and set up by his
fellow forwards. It was Lamming’s fourth try in two matches after
his opening round hat-trick versus the Philippines.
Nick Hewson touched down soon after the break but the floodgates
remained closed as Sri Lanka grimly fought back in the second half
taking on and beating their opponents at the breakdown.
Kong’s sixth try came late in the game when sub Alex McQueen
scored from a scrum 30 metres out. Flyhalf Chris McAdam kicked 11
points including a penalty.
Sri Lanka finished strongly with
center Danushka Ranjan touching down from a sweet move, cutting
inside to catch the tiring Hong Kong defence napping.
Nuwan Hettiarachchi, who had kicked a penalty earlier, knocked
over the conversion to raise the spirits of the home team with
second half points on the board.
“Sri Lanka won the battle of
the contact area and stopped us playing. All credit to them,”
Jones said. “Sri Lanka won the second half because they won the
The home team suffered a blow even before kick-off
after its bid to field three Fijians came unstuck after team management failed to provide all the documentation needed to prove
the players qualified under the IRB’s grandparent ruling.
doesn’t mean they are not eligible, it is just that they did not
have all the paperwork in order. If they can get that right, they
can make an official request for eligibility for the rest of Sri
Lanka’s matches,” said an Asian Rugby Football Union spokesman.
In the Philippines, Japan nearly topped a ton in their scoring
against the hosts. Japan led 45-10 at halftime with the Volcanoes
scoring their first points in this year’s Top 5 campaign through
the brothers Saunders as captain and flyhalf Oliver accounted for
a penalty and a conversion in the first half. His brother, centre
Matt Saunders took an intercepted pass 50m in a great solo effort
to score the Volcanoes sole try of the afternoon.
smarting from a loss in a warm-up match against an invitational
team last week, came out smoking hot, scoring the first try in the
opening two minutes. Yoshikazu Fujita, last year’s emerging player
of the year, kept up his scoring string in Top 5 rugby with a hat
trick in today’s match.
Close behind him was his wing
counterpart Kotaro Matsushima who scored a brace as did No.8
Hayden Hopgood and reserve prop Yusuke Nagae as Japan made its
advantages in size and strength in the forwards count.
tries came through centre Daishi Murata, flanker Hendrik Tui, lock
Justin Ives, reserve scrumhalf Yusuke Horie and reserve prop
Fullback Ayumu Goromaru had a solid outing with
the boot and with ball in hand, scoring a try and adding 12
conversions for a 29-point haul.
Sri Lanka, winless after
losing to South Korea 59-3 in their opening game, will meet Japan
next in Nagoya and will end their second stint in the top tier by
meeting the Philippines.
Hong Kong will face a monumental
clash versus South Korea next Saturday at the Hong Kong Football
Korea was on a bye this weekend.
Hong Kong are in pole
position on the Top 5 table with 12 points from two matches with
Japan and South Korea in second and third place on 6 points each
but with both having a game in hand on Hong Kong. Sri Lanka is in
fourth place with the Philippines in fifth.
With the revamped
format that sees the Top 5 slimmed down to a Top 3 competition
next season, both Sri Lanka and the Philippines look set to be
relegated to Division One where they will face off against
Singapore and the winner of the Kazakhstan v Chinese Taipei match
in Hong Kong next weekend.
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