Photo credit: HKRU
As the dust settles on three days of intensely competitive rugby at the Coral Coast Sevens, plenty of positives can undoubtedly be drawn from Hong Kong's performances.
In a tournament which pit both Men's and Women's Sevens squads against predominantly local Fijian internationals, the former did well to improve on last year's performance by securing the Bowl, while the Women's side fell short of replicating a spectacular run which saw them reach the 2018 Cup Final.
Gai Wu's Chong Ka-yan, unquestionably the standout performer from last year, made her presence count by contributing 4 tries in her side's opening two games to earn Hong Kong a win and a draw.
However, two 12-10 losses against Scion Woo in the Pool and Cup quarter-final respectively placed the Cup final firmly out of sight, with the sheer physicality of the USA stars proving too much in the Plate semi-finals.
Factoring in the addition of four U20 players and new coach Iain Monaghan having been appointed all of 48 hours prior to the tournament, this was a highly credible performance by all accounts.
“The biggest on pitch positive is that we are playing at probably 50% of our capacity," said Monaghan, formerly of the Scottish Rugby Union.
"We have huge potential and if we can make some very subtle changes, work on some small but important details, and improve our focus, then we can see a massive improvement in how we play, which is hugely exciting.”
Seen very much as a crucial audition to secure those much-coveted places in the Sevens setup and feature in the upcoming Hong Kong Sevens, Men's head coach Paul John was expecting his charges to rise to the occasion presented by the tour.
He got just that, with the likes of Alex McQueen, Mak Kwai-chung and Chris Maize celebrating their returns to the fore with tries in their opening 17-14 win against Sigatoka.
This was followed a rampant 20-5 victory over Lokalevu, although a subsequent 26-5 loss to top-seeded Tabudamu scuppered Hong Kong's flying start, eventually denying them a place in the Cup quarter-finals via points differential.
Hong Kong got over this setback with a plucky 5-0 win over Outrigger to reach the Bowl semi-finals, though they would progress no further courtesy of a 14-7 loss to NFA- nonetheless a far better showing in only their third year playing in the Coral Coast Sevens.