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Rugby: Japan rout Philippines, as HK win in Sri Lanka to lead A5N

Japan captain Michael Leitch tries to evade the Philippine defence as the defending champions opened their Asian Five Nations campaign with a 99-10 win. Photo: Kenji Demura / RJP.

Japan captain Michael Leitch tries to evade the Philippine defence as the defending champions opened their Asian Five Nations campaign with a 99-10 win. Photo: Kenji Demura / RJP.

May 4, 2014: Hong Kong ran in six tries to defeat Sri Lanka 41-10 in Colombo on Saturday evening for their second straight win in the ARFU Asian Five Nations, as they bid to secure at least the runners-up spot in a competition that doubles as a qualifier for next year’s Rugby World Cup in England.

 

Japan, the continent’s top-ranked side and winners of every previous edition of the Asian Five Nations, had a bye in the first week and opened their campaign with an emphatic 99-10 away win over the Philippines in Laguna.

 

Yoshikazu Fujita, last year’s Emerging Player of the Year, bagged a hat-trick, while his fellow winger Kotaro Matsushima scored a brace, as did No. 8 Hayden Hopgood and reserve prop Yusuke Nagae.

 

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.

 

Japan led 45-10 at half-time, as the Philippines scored their first points in this year’s campaign through the Saunders brothers. After an intercepted pass, centre Matt Saunders ran 50 metres in a great solo effort to score the Volcanoes’ sole try, while flyhalf Oliver, the team’s captain, knocked over a conversion and a penalty.

 

In Colombo, 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. However, they couldn’t sustain that sound start as Sri Lanka came back strongly, Hong Kong only edging the scoring 12-10 in the second half.

 

Hong Kong prop Leon Wei Hon-sum picked up a first-half brace, the first from a powerful drive by the forwards, 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.

 

Hong Kong prop Leon Wei Hon-sum scored a first-half brace in the 41-10 win over Sri Lanka in Colombo. Photo: Thusith Wijedoru / DigiEye.

Prop Leon Wei Hon-sum scored a first-half brace in Hong Kong’s 41-10 win in Sri Lanka. Photo: Thusith Wijedoru / DigiEye.

Sandwiched 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 – who scored a hat-trick against the Philippines – added the fourth just before half-time, this one also from close range and set up by his fellow forwards.

 

Soon after the break, Hong Kong skipper Nick Hewson touched down, but Sri Lanka fought back, taking on and beating their opponents at the breakdown. Hong Kong’s sixth try came late in the game when sub Alex McQueen scored from a scrum 30 metres out, while 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 before fullback Nuwan Hettiarachchi, who had earlier kicked a penalty, knocked over the conversion.

 

Hong Kong head coach Leigh Jones was left frustrated as he contemplates next week’s crucial home match against South Korea.

 

“Sri Lanka won the battle of the contact area and stopped us playing. All credit to them. Sri Lanka won the second half because they won the breakdown,” Jones said. “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.”

 

Sri Lanka captain Namal Rajapaksa said: “I’m very proud of my guys. They played their hearts out. 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 performance.”

 

Hong Kong top the table with 12 points from two matches, with Japan and South Korea in second and third place on six points each and with a game in hand on the leaders. Sri Lanka are fourth, with the Philippines fifth.

 

Hong Kong next host South Korea, who had a bye this weekend, at the Hong Kong Football Club on May 10, while Sri Lanka, winless after losing to South Korea 59-3 in their opener, will meet Japan in Nagoya. Sri Lanka will end their second stint in the top tier by meeting the Philippines, before the top tier is reduced from five to three teams next year.

 

Source: ARFU / ESA

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