Hong Kong show progress in losing effort in Tokyo

7 May, 2015


Hong Kong didn't win the war, leave alone the battles, yet head coach Andy Hall was pleased that his side had made progress by claiming "mini-victories" over Japan in the Asia Rugby Championship in Tokyo on Saturday.

"This was a much-better performance than against South Korea last week. We won quite a few mini-victories unfortunately we didn't have enough of those mini-victories to affect the outcome," Hall said.

Japan ran in seven tries and kept a clean sheet to register a 41-0 victory over Asia's number two team, Hong Kong.After keeping their unbeaten record intact Japan stormed to the top of the three-team standings with 12 points. South Korea is second with six points while Hong Kong are in third place with two points.

All three teams have played two matches with South Korea travelling to Fukuoka, Japan for Round 4 next Saturday (9 May).

"We wanted a reaction from last week's (poor) performance against Korea and we got that today. Unfortunately we didn't have a platform to exert pressure on Japan. We didn't win enough ball and when we did, we failed to keep hold of it. When this happens it makes life difficult," Hall said.

Hong Kong, who began with lock Adam Butterfield making his debut, troubled Japan in the scrum but couldn't hold their own in the lineouts allowing their opponents to dominate.

But it took 17 minutes for Japan to breach the line against a determined and dogged Hong Kong defence with winger Akihito Yamada completing a quickly taken tap to cross over by the left corner flag.

It didn't open up the floodgates with Hong Kong slowing the game down cleverly in a stop-start affair resulting in a large crown of nearly 9,000 at the Prince Chichibu Stadium remaining subdued.

Japan led 19-0 at the break with two more tries from centre Karne Hesketh and lock forward Luke Thompson with fullback Ayumu Goromaru converting two.

Hong Kong lost openside flanker Matt Lamming to the sin-bin soon after the game resumed and in his absence Japan scored twice with centre Yu Tamura and Yamada completing his brace.

Midway through the second half Hong Kong was reduced to 14 men again when winger Charlie Higson-Smith failed to roll away from a breakdown.

Japan again capitalised with No.8 Ryu Holani scoring from a five-metre scrum before substitute winger Yoshikazu Fujita completed the victory-march by dotting down near the right corner flag.

"We showed good intent today,'" said Japan head coach Eddie Jones. "But our handling let us down".

Japan spilled eight passes giving a reprieve to Hong Kong who had lost 49-8 when the two sides met last year in the World Cup qualifying tournament.