Rugby: Hong Kong women celebrate first Asia Sevens Series title
- Updated: September 6, 2015
September 6, 2015: Hong Kong’s women beat the hosts 24-15 in the final of the China Sevens in Qingdao on Sunday to win their first ever Cup title on the Asia Rugby Sevens Series.
Japan won the men’s title with a 28-12 win over China, who had shocked Hong Kong in the quarter-finals and prevented the SAR from competing in the Cup final on the series for the first time since 2011.
In contrast, Hong Kong’s women swept by Uzbekistan 31-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a tantalising encounter versus Japan in the semis. Anna Richards’ team struck first against Japan, with a try to Candy Cheng Tsz-ting giving them a 5-0 lead at the break. Despite back-and-forth action in the second half, neither team could add to the scoreline and Hong Kong advanced to only its second cup final since 2011.
After China scored to take a 5-0 lead early on in the final, the visitors jumped out to a 12-5 lead at the half as Hong Kong’s flying winger Aggie Poon Pak-yan went on to record her second hat-trick of the tournament and bring her two-day total to 12 tries.
Poon’s final try to open the second half and her outstanding conversion from the sideline added to Hong Kong’s self-belief as they went ahead 19-5. Poon finished with 78 points from the weekend.
China managed a quick reply to Poon’s score, but forward Nam Ka-man earned just reward for some grafting play over the tournament to score Hong Kong’s fourth try and extend the lead to 24-10. China added a consolation score, but Hong Kong held on to win their first-ever Asia sevens title.
Richards, a four-time Rugby World Cup winner, said: “The girls deserved to be in the final. I told them before the game that if they played as they had all weekend then they would win. We didn’t need to pull a rabbit out of our hat or anything; we just needed self-belief.”
It was Hong Kong’s fourth straight win over China this year and Richards was enjoying the run of results. “China looked a little tired in the final and we were still scoring great tries. They went into extra-time versus Kazakhstan in the semi so that had an effect, but I also wonder if the fact that we beat them yesterday and in Dublin had anything to do with it. That has got to weigh on their minds a bit.”
For Richards, the win is the perfect build-up for the Olympic qualifiers in November when Asian qualification will send one men’s and one women’s team to the 2016 Games in Rio.
“Our girls believe they can win now. I’m not sure they had that before, but now we do. We went down by a try to China early on but we stayed strong and China couldn’t do anything after that. We played well and we won well. Now we will go back and start preparing for the Sri Lanka Sevens in October and the Olympic qualifiers in November.”
Source: Asia Rugby (http://asiarugby.com); Editing by SportAsia