Seven-try Hong Kong relegate Kazakhstan
HONG KONG (AFP) –
Hong Kong pummelled Kazakhstan 55-0 Saturday to relegate the Central Asian side to the second tier of the Asian Five Nations for the first time, while South Korea defeated the United Arab Emirates.
The results meant Hong Kong finished third in this season’s competition, ahead of the UAE and Kazakhstan, and South Korea secured second place in their first season back in the top division with their 47-21 win in Seoul.
Japan, who have never lost a Five Nations match in the tournament’s five-year history, were crowned champions once more last week.
Last year’s runners-up Hong Kong, hurting after the 67-0 thumping by Japan in Tokyo last week, were determined to finish on a high and started quickly, all but ending the match as a contest after just 25 minutes.
Three tries and three conversions with just over quarter of the match gone saw Hong Kong race to a 21-0 lead, leaving Kazakhstan facing their first relegation in the tournament’s history.
Hong Kong’s head of performance Dai Rees was delighted with his team’s showing, particularly in the wet and humid conditions.
“It was a great occasion and a great turnout from our rugby fans and local community,” he said. “And it was good to see the team respond with a sound performance under very trying conditions.”
Hong Kong got off to the best of starts after just three minutes when centre Ally Maclay shrugged off two challenges before putting the ball down between the posts, giving outside half Michael Glancy an easy conversion.
As heavy tackles flew in from both sides Hong Kong’s backs were looking to attack at every opportunity, giving their fans at the newly renovated Mong Kok Stadium plenty to cheer about.
After 13 minutes it was 14-0 thanks to a try from lock Charles French and a second conversion from Glancy, before centre Lee Jones broke through the Kazakhstan defence to give Hong Kong their third try of the match.
Another conversion and two successful penalty kicks from Glancy saw Hong Kong enter the break with a 27-0 lead, with Kazakhstan’s misery compounded by the sin-binning of two players in quick succession.
The flair and pace of Hong Kong’s backs proved too much for Kazakhstan and they wilted even further as the second half progressed.
Tries from flanker Nick Hewson, winger Rowan Varty, a second for Maclay, a penalty try and three conversions from Glancy completed the rout for the hosts.
“It was a fantastic way to finish the campaign,” Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones said. “We made no bones about the fact that second was always our target but as soon as we lost to Korea (21-19) that was always going to be difficult.”
South Korea finished runners-up with a hard-fought win over the UAE, who were competitive for an hour before fading away and just about stay in the elite Five Nations at the expense of Kazakhstan.
At Hong Kong
Hong Kong 55 Kazakhstan 0
South Korea 47 UAE 21