Heartbreak for Hong Kong
The Men’s Qualifier
On Day Two of the Hong Kong Sevens, the Men’s Qualifier was whittled down to four remaining teams, and the Main competition sorted itself out into which teams will play for the Cup and Plate, and which teams will vie for the Bowl and Shield.
For the Hong Kong team, the competition ended agonizingly on Saturday evening. The early promise from their opening games on Friday, was not matched by performance or results on Saturday. Hong Kong was routed by Chile, 31-0 in their final pool match. Which meant a tough quarterfinal against undefeated Germany. Despite a performance that redeemed their lackluster effort against Chile, it was not enough to secure a semifinal slot on Sunday.
Germany took an early opportune lead, when Hong Kong was down to six players (through injury). Hong Kong fought back and leveled the scores at 7-7, with a minute to play. But Germany retained the ball from the restart and created a last-gasp chance to run in a try from 40metres at the final whistle to win 14-7. Germany play on Sunday: Hong Kong again contemplate ‘what might have been’.
In the other quarterfinals, Chile beat Uruguay, their South American neighbours, 21-12. Papua New Guinea, somehow held on to edge Uganda, 14-10. Uganda made too many errors of judgement but had enough territory and possession to have won the match. Instead, Papua New Guinea play tomorrow. The fourth semifinal berth was secured by Spain, who comfortably beat Namibia 33-0, and on current form look the strongest of the qualifier teams.
Sunday’s semifinals are:
- Chile vs Germany; and Spain vs Papua New Guinea
The Main competition
The Main competition provided some gripping rugby. Although most matches went to form, there were some blips. The final two rounds of pool matches were played, that sifted the teams into those contesting the Cup and Plate; and those the Bowl and Shield. Whilst there were no surprises there were some minor reversals. England struggled, and narrowly beat Samoa 12-10, but later lost to Australia by the same score. As a result, Australia topped Pool A, with England second, Samoa third and South Korea fourth.
In Pool B South Africa comfortably won the group, with Canada next, followed by Kenya and then France.
The Pool C matches generated the most intrigue. Fiji eventually won the group, beating New Zealand 17-14 in a tense match, that see-sawed between the two sides. Fiji needed to win, as earlier they had been held to draw by Wales, and were lucky not to lose. Despite playing without their normal ebullient panache, Fiji still won the group, confined New Zealand to runners-up, and Wales third and Japan fourth.
In the final Pool, USA won their group, and in their final match trounced Argentina 33-5, sending a clear message to other teams that the USA is in Hong Kong to win. Argentina came second in the pool; Russia third, after a gritty win over Scotland; and Scotland fourth.
Sunday’s matches are;
- Samoa vs Scotland
- Wales vs France
- Russia vs South Korea
- Kenya vs Japan
- Australia vs. Argentina
- Fiji vs Canada
- USA vs England
- South Africa vs New Zealand
Every match on Sunday is knock-out rugby with some mouth-watering games to look forward to, especially in the Cup competition. South Africa vs New Zealand as a quarterfinal…is worthy of a final: and USA vs England sees the tournaments two fastest men line -up against each other, Perry Baker (USA) and Dan Norton (England)
Grahame Carder is a sports enthusiast, former r and now resident in Hong Kong.