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Mon, 24 Feb 2020

Hong Kong Win Bronze at Inaugural World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series

An understrength Hong Kong side battled its way to the bronze medal at the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series finale in Montevideo, Uruguay on Sunday to finish as runners-up in the inaugural series.

After day one niggles worsened, Hong Kong began the morning down to 11 men with Liam Herbert ruled out ahead of play.

Scrumhalf Jamie Hood put a balky back on the line to score an important try in the quarterfinal against Italy as Hong Kong squeaked by 17-14 after Hoodís tally came with three seconds left on the clock. That effort would be Hoodís last of the day, leaving Hong Kong with ten men ahead of the semi-final against the hosts Uruguay, who were on a mission to perform in front of its sparse but dedicated support.

Uruguay upended Hong Kong 12-0 with two first half tries and a frenetic defensive effort that was effective in derailing the opening round cup finalists. Hong Kong had its chances, particularly at the end of the opening half, but Uruguay held out for a tight win.

Hugo Stiles tries to slip a Uruguay tackle during the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series finale in Montevideo. Click to enlarge.

After finishing in 9th place the previous weekend in Chile, Uruguay reached the cup final at home, losing to Japan in two added-time periods 5-0.

Japanís win, combined with its third placed finish in Chile gave them the series silverware, two points ahead of Hong Kong who finished in second and third respectively across the two legs.

Hong Kong coach Paul John was disappointed with the Uruguay match but hailed the efforts of his players in their South American tour.

ďIt has been a very, very tough tour with two tournaments back to back and 40 hours of travel to get here,Ē said John. ďWe picked up a few injuries in the past two days, with Liam not playing at all today and Jamie not able to go after the opening game. We didnít want to risk anyone else in terms of worsening those injuries. Even down to ten men the boys are disappointed with the Uruguay game. We didnít help ourselves very much. They strangled us and didnít allow us to play our game and we didn't show the same line speed to get to the breakdown we had earlier in the tournament. Uruguay were excellent in the contact area. In sevens, you have to get it absolutely right and we didnít. We had some really good chances, with two or three scoring opportunities at the end of the half but we blew them in the final phase of possession. That changed the momentum of the game.Ē

John was pleased with the way his charges picked themselves up after the semi-final to hold on for a 12-7 win over Chile in the bronze medal match.

ďThat was an important game for us. We had gone well on day one and all the way through to the semi-final when we lost. At times, we have struggled to get back up in those positions. The 10 fit boys we did have were excellent with guys like Max [captain Max Woodward] and Russ [fly half Russell Webb] playing nearly every minute of every game on this tour. It can be difficult to manage the second weekend in a swing like this. There is a temptation to over-train or to train more after the opening leg but you may need to train less. We only trained twice this week to focus on our recovery and getting ready.Ē

The challenge of back-to-back tournaments is one that John and Hong Kong are hoping they will need to become accustomed to next season on the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series.

Hong Kong is still very much in contention for that spot, now owning the second seed for the third and final qualification event.

Given the rescheduling of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens to 16-18 October, the final venue and dates for the qualifier is yet to be confirmed, so next steps remain unclear for John and Hong Kong.

ďThere are a lot of bruised and battered bodies and we leave on Monday but donít get home until Thursday, so I hope that we can have a week off at least,Ē John said whilst still in South America.

Hong Kong Sevens (Touring Squad): World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series: Max WOODWARD (captain)*; Ben RIMENE; Raef MORRISON*; Michael COVERDALE; Hugo STILES*; Cado LEE Ka-to*; Jamie HOOD*; Jack NEVILLE; Alex McQUEEN; Liam HERBERT*; Russell WEBB*; Max DENMARK*; Sebastian BRIEN*; YIU Kam-shing*; Kane BOUCAUT*; Toby FENN*.

* Selection for Montevideo, Uruguay

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

See latest Travel News, Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: Rugby, Sevens, Uruguay.

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