Hong Kong Beat Sri Lanka in Asian Five Nations

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Sunday, 4 May 2014

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 qualifiers.

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 weeks weighty challenge of taking on South Korea at home.

"Our set piece wont 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 Kongs 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 couldnt sustain that sound start as Sri Lanka came back strongly, countering Hong Kongs scoring 12-10 in the second half.

Im very proud of my guys. They played their hearts out, said Sri Lanka captain Namal Rajapaksa. Unfortunately we couldnt 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, Im very happy with our performance.

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.

Sandwiched between Weis 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 Lammings fourth try in two matches after his opening round hat-trick versus the Philippines.

Skipper 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.

Hong Kongs 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.

Fullback 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 breakdown.

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 IRBs grandparent ruling.

It doesnt 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 Lankas 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 years 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.

Japan, 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 years emerging player of the year, kept up his scoring string in Top 5 rugby with a hat trick in todays 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.

Other tries came through centre Daishi Murata, flanker Hendrik Tui, lock Justin Ives, reserve scrumhalf Yusuke Horie and reserve prop Takashi Kizu.

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 Club.

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.

Rugby World Cup, Rugby, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong

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