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Rugby: South Korea grab crucial ARC win in Hong Kong (Watch Video)

April 25, 2015: Powerful fullback Jang Seong-min and speedy right winger Jegal Bin each scored a first-half brace as South Korea recorded a 33-26 victory over hosts Hong Kong in the second week of the new-look Asia Rugby Championship on Saturday.

 

The dangerous backs found holes in the defence to silence a sizeable crowd at Hong Kong Football Club and give Korea an invaluable victory in their campaign to win back the number two slot in Asia currently held by Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong desperately tried to claw their way back from a 25-7 deficit at the break, but Korea hung on for a crucial victory in the revamped three-team top tier as they bounced back from the previous week’s 56-30 loss to Japan, the seven-time Asian Five Nations champions.

 

Korea coach Chung Hyung-suk said: “It was truly a team performance and I think that was the difference today. We played as a team with a lot of heart, but also very smartly. We implemented certain changes from how we played Japan, particularly in our defensive patterns and where we wanted to play on the pitch and that helped us create space against Hong Kong.”

 

Hong Kong coach Andy Hall said: “We weren’t good enough on the day. Our execution was poor and to give away four tries in the first half and concede a bonus point is disappointing. Korea took their opportunities and credit to them, but it was all about what we didn’t do today.”

 

Jang, who scored a brace against Japan, was once again in superb form as the powerfully built fullback easily sliced through in the fifth minute to score the first of Korea’s five tries. Jegal then added a second a few minutes later when the winger rounded opposite number Salom Yiu Kam-shing to give his side a 12-0 lead.

 

Hong Kong earned their first points through a solo effort by sevens star Tom McQueen, with the winger taking a quick tap before chipping and chasing then touching down under the post.

 

But that was about the only success for the home team as Korea dominated the breakdown and the set-pieces to provide good ball to their dangerous backs, with Jegal and Jang scoring again.

 

Korean flyhalf Oh Youn-hyung could have put the result beyond doubt, but only managed to convert one try and a penalty as the visitors led 25-7 at halftime. Oh added a second penalty soon after the break, but the sin-binning of Korean tighthead Kim Kwang-sik for a shoulder charge set the stage for a comeback by the home team.

 

Loosehead prop John Aikman smuggled the ball over the line from a driving maul and substitute flyhalf Niall Rowark added the extra points to make it 28-14.

 

However, a lapse in concentration resulted in one of many turnovers by Hong Kong and Korea gratefully accepted the gift as left winger Chang Yong-heung scored a try against the run of play to extend the lead to 33-14.

 

But with Korea wilting fast and with Hong Kong bringing on their substitutes, the tide began to turn. Fullback Alex McQueen spotted a hole and was through in a flash to score Hong Kong’s third try and make it 33-19.

 

With time running out, Yiu then dotted down after making full use of a long cut-out pass which created room for him to round the last line of defence. A successful conversion by Rowark brought Hong Kong within reach, 33-26, but time had run out.

 

Korea moved to six points after the bonus-point win, while Hong Kong are on two after collecting their own four-try bonus point and another for a loss within seven. Defending champions Japan top the table on six points after their opening win, with a game in hand on Korea.

 

Hong Kong travel to Japan and Korea over the next two weekends before hosting Japan in the final round on May 23.

 

Hall said: “We have a lot of work to do now. It will not get any easier. We had targeted both the Korean games, but life is difficult with two games away now.”

 

Korea will have a bye week before travelling to Japan, but coach Chung is realistic about his expectations against the seven-time Asian champions.

 

“Of course, Japan is the best team in Asia so we want to learn from them,” Chung said. “That is going to be our biggest objective when we travel there in a few weeks.”

 

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

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