Future bodes well as Hong Kong U-19s secure fifth-straight title

December 17, 2017

Photo credit: Jacky Tsui (@swishphotographyhk) 


Having attained a 37-8 victory in the away leg held earlier this month, the Hong Kong U-19s capitalised fully on home advantage last night at the Hong Kong Football Club to sweep aside Sri Lanka 40-7.


The result ensures that Hong Kong secure a fifth-straight Asia Rugby U-19s trophy, thereby booking a place in the 2018 World Rugby Junior Trophy as Asia's sole representative.


Hong Kong signalled their attacking intent as early as the 4th minute, overloading the flanks to set up Marcus Ramage for the first try of the game, with Paul Altier adding a successful conversion.


An onset of cold weather in the city perhaps played a part as Hong Kong eased slowly through the gears, setting up camp in Sri Lanka's territory while somewhat lacking incision. 


However, the pressure soon told for the visitors as Max Denmark accelerated past two Sri Lankan players for his first try of the series, the conversion from Altier sailing comfortably between the posts to put Hong Kong 14-0 up at the 16-minute mark.


The Sri Lankan riposte was instantaneous, with Chamod Fernando weaving his way past the Hong Kong backline to pull a try back, complemented by Rudi Silva's accurate conversion to see the sides go into the half-time break with a 14-7 scoreline.


Photo credit: Jacky Tsui (@swishphotographyhk) 


There was a senior look to the Hong Kong side that emerged from the dressing room, with head coach Stephen Dowse making the requisite changes to settle the contest once and for all.


Seizing the initiative, fly-half Paul Altier masterminded a third try for his side on the back of a well-executed scrum, which he followed with an impeccable kicking display for another successful conversion.


Finally gaining a solid foothold in the game, the home side recovered from a poorly executed lineout to recover possession and close in on the tryline, with forward Jay Cooke charging under the posts in the 55th minute with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.


Not to be outdone, hooker Callum Tam chipped in with his contribution to Hong Kong's increasing advantage, with Altier scoring one out of two conversions resulting from the latter two tries.


The icing on the cake was supplied by Alex Nesbitt, with a storming run taking him past the tryline and Altier's well-struck conversion seeing to a convincing 40-7 triumph over Sri Lanka.


"Today's performance was much more clinical than the one in Sri Lanka and they played a lot better here as well," said winger Marcus Ramage.


"We just tried to play to our strengths. In the first half we tried to play a bit more special than we needed to, but in the second half we kept it simple and we got some returns from that."


While pleased with the result, head coach Stephen Dowse was warily optimistic about Hong Kong's prospects of success at the World Trophy but embraces the chance to take national rugby to the next level.


“The hardest part for us if we look at the past three or four World Trophies is making that leap and closing the gap on the other teams at that level," said Dowse.


"We are fortunate to have the full backing of the Union and we will address our build-up to next year’s competition to make sure that we give ourselves and these guys the best opportunity to succeed."


"This is a really talented group and there are some standout players here."


“Asia is at one level and we expect to win that and dominate that, but now we need to challenge ourselves on the world stage,” he added.



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