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Rugby: Hong Kong show progress despite Japan loss (Watch Video)

May 2, 2015: Hong Kong head coach Andy Hall was pleased that his side had made progress by claiming “mini-victories” despite a 41-0 loss to Japan on Saturday as the top tier of Asia Rugby Championship reached the halfway stage.

 

In front of nearly 9,000 fans in Tokyo, Japan ran in seven tries for their second win in this year’s campaign, moving to the top of the three-team standings with 12 points.

 

South Korea are second with six points while Hong Kong, who lost at home to Korea in their first match, are third with two points after suffering a 13th straight loss to Japan.

 

“This was a much-better performance than against South Korea last week,” Hall said. “We won quite a few mini-victories unfortunately we didn’t have enough of those mini-victories to affect the outcome.

 

“We wanted a reaction from last week’s performance against Korea and we got that. Unfortunately we didn’t have a platform to exert pressure on Japan. We didn’t win enough ball and when we did, we failed to keep hold of it. When this happens it makes life difficult.”

 

Hong Kong prop Jack Parfitt carries the ball into the Japan defence in Tokyo.

Hong Kong prop Jack Parfitt carries the ball into the Japan defence in Tokyo, where almost 9,000 fans attended.

Hong Kong, who began with lock Adam Butterfield making his debut, troubled Japan in the scrum but couldn’t hold their own in the lineouts allowing their opponents to dominate.

 

But it took 17 minutes for Japan to breach the line against a determined and dogged Hong Kong defence, with winger Akihito Yamada completing a quickly taken tap to cross over by the left corner flag.

 

It didn’t open up the floodgates as Hong Kong slowed the game down cleverly in a stop-start affair, resulting in the large crowd at the Prince Chichibu Stadium remaining subdued.

 

Japan led 19-0 at the break with two more tries from centre Karne Hesketh and lock forward Luke Thompson, with fullback Ayumu Goromaru converting two.

 

Japan winger Akihito Yamada scored a brace in the 41-0 win over Hong Kong.

Japan winger Akihito Yamada scored a brace in the 41-0 win over Hong Kong.

Hong Kong lost openside flanker Matt Lamming to the sin-bin soon after the game resumed and in his absence Japan scored twice through centre Yu Tamura and Yamada, completing his brace.

 

Midway through the second half, Hong Kong were again reduced to 14 men when winger Charlie Higson-Smith failed to roll away from a breakdown.

 

Japan again capitalised as No. 8 Ryu Holani scored from a five-metre scrum before substitute winger Yoshikazu Fujita completed the victory-march by dotting down near the right corner flag.

 

Japan spilled eight passes giving a reprieve to Hong Kong, who had lost 49-8 when the two sides met last year in the World Cup qualifying tournament.

 

Japan coach Eddie Jones said: “We got a bit more rust out of us and I’m pretty happy with the intent with which we played. There were some individual errors that marred the performance, but I am pleased with the effort.”

 

After three weeks, all three teams have played two matches, with South Korea next travelling to Fukuoka to play on Japan on Saturday, May 9.

 

Source: ARFU (www.arfu.com); Editing by SportAsia

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