Hong Kong's men's rugby sevens team made their way to the final of the first leg of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger Series, but then got blanked by Germany 10-0 in convincing fashion.
Hong Kong went undefeated in their pool games, besting Papua New Guinea, Jamaica and Colombia, and then beat Uganda 10-7 in the semi-final on Monday morning (HK time) before squeaking by hosts Chile 17-14 in Vina del Mar.
The Challenger Series consists of two legs, the second taking place this weekend in Montevideo, Uruguay, and will determine the seeding for the 2020 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens qualifying portion of the World Rugby Sevens Series, now slated for October. The Hong Kong Sevens was rescheduled owing to the coronavirus, and will now conclude the 2019-20 season.
Head coach Paul John said his team played well, right up until the match against Germany.
"It was not a great final," said John. "I thought it was very flat and we didn't play our best. We started very poorly and fell off some tackles which helped them at key moments.
"Overall, we are pleased with our progress. We finished second and reached the final, which is one of our goals at every tournament, but we suffered a second loss in a final, which is frustrating."
Hong Kong lost a chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this past December, losing a heartbreaking match to South Korea in Incheon during the final, which went to overtime. Regardless, John said his boys are now primed and ready for Uruguay.
"It is funny, we would have taken that result beforehand if you offered it, but the boys are disappointed with the finish. Still, we are right in the mix now to finish near the top of the two tournaments. Coming in we needed a top eight finish, but our goal was to finish in the top two in both tournaments and we have now done that in the first," John added.
Hong Kong will get one last chance to qualify for the Olympics in a last ditch tournament in Biarritz, France June 20-21, however will be up against some stiffer competition which includes France, Ireland, Samoa and Tonga. John said right now the onus is on recovering from a gruelling two days in South America, and gearing up for two more difficult days.
"There are some battered and bruised bodies out there after playing six games in two days. Normally, we play five matches in the Asian series, so this is something that we have not done in a while, but no one else has either really. Japan is used to it, but I think we are the only two sides with that experience of back-to-back tourneys with such a huge prize at the end."
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli