Hong Kong win Shanghai Sevens(IRB.COM) Sunday 23 September 2012
Hong Kong crushed hosts China 40-10 to win the second round of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, the Shanghai Sevens, to underline their growing status as one of the top teams in Asia.
There are four rounds in Asia's Series this year, with the fourth in Singapore in November doubling as the region's qualifer for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013. The rankings after round three in Mumbai on 13-14 October will be used to determine seedings for Singapore, where three spots are available for Asian teams at next year’s World Cup in Moscow.
In the Shanghai Cup final, two tries each from outstanding fly-half Jamie Hood and centre Lee Jones allowed Hong Kong to dominate China and finish the second leg of the Series on an emphatic and unbeaten note.
The victory has pushed Hong Kong to the top of the Asian standings with one more ranking event remaining – next month’s Mumbai Sevens, where Japan will return to action.
The Japanese withdrew from the Shanghai tournament amid political tensions in Sino-Japanese relations.
Japan’s absence gave Hong Kong carte blanche to stamp their authority and they took it with both hands, winning all six matches at the Yuanshen Stadium to ease to their first title this season.
“This is our first ranking tournament win in two years. Now if we finish anywhere above Japan in Mumbai, that will be enough to give us the overall crown,” said a pleased Hong Kong national coach, Dai Rees.
Japan and Hong Kong set for tussle in Mumbai
It all points to a winner-take-all between Hong Kong and Japan at the Mumbai Sevens on October 12-13 after the Asian Rugby Football Union decided that the defending champions would not be penalised for staying away from Shanghai. Japan will be awarded points for Shanghai - an average of their total points won in Borneo and Mumbai - which means if they were to win the third leg in India’s financial capital, they will retain their Asian crown.
“If we make the semi-finals in Mumbai, we will be assured of finishing in the top two in Asia which was our original goal, but we are also in with a good chance of finishing number one now and that will enable us to go to the London Sevens, which is also our aim now,” Rees added.
The winners of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series will have an added incentive after the announcement that they will earn a spot against the 15 core teams at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. This could also result in an automatic berth at the qualifying competition for core team status at the season-ending London Sevens, the final leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
While Chinese Taipei took bronze for a best ever finish, Ben Gollings' Sri Lanka won the Plate beating Thailand 22-7. In doing so they went one better than their Borneo Bowl title.
“We are very pleased to win the Plate in Shanghai. Ben [Gollings] is really helping us improve a lot. We won the Bowl in Borneo, now the Plate in Shanghai and we keep getting better. Why not the Cup in Mumbai?” said Sri Lanka captain, Fazil Marija.
The HSBC Asian Sevens Series now rolls into Mumbai for the third ranking event on October 13-14 at Bombay Gymkhana. The 16 teams participating will make it the largest event played to date on the Series.