Hong Kong ran riot to beat Korea 58-7 in their final match at the Asian Under 19 Championship on Saturday to confirm their place at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2015 in Portugal.
This match was always expected to prove decisive in the bid to qualify for the Trophy but Hong Kong gave their opponents no room to manoeuvre as they raced out to a 24-0 lead by half-time and then didn't let up in a second half which saw three Korean players sin-binned.
Full back and captain Hugo Stiles kicked 18 points with wing Danial Davidson, centre Jordan Cooper and second row Calvin Hunter all touching down twice. Replacement Kevin Field and flanker Raef Morrison were Hong Kong's other try scorers with Korea's only reply a try by hooker Yeo Minhyeok.
Hong Kong made their debut in the Junior World Rugby Trophy as tournament hosts in 2014 and finished eighth after failing to win a match, but were determined to qualify by right with a place opening up for the other Asian nations after Japan won JWRT 2014 to return to the IRB Junior World Championship in 2015.
“The JWRT was a great experience for us,” said Hong Kong coach Pale Tauti. “It wasn’t ideal to come away with four losses, but it was a great learning curve for the team. The guys who played in that competition know now that they can compete at that level. Now they want their first win.”
Six tries - including a brace from Richard Lewis - saw Hong Kong beat Chinese Taipei 44-5 on the opening day and they followed this with a 32-7 defeat of hosts Sri Lanka, a second-half hat-trick by scrum-half Matthew Worley securing the win after only three points had separated the teams at half-time.
Korea had edged a tight battle with Sri Lanka on day one, winning 31-28, but then slipped to a 24-7 loss to Chinese Taipei. This result meant that both Korea and Chinese Taipei went into the final round with six points, six fewer than pacesetters Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka, though, finished second behind Hong Kong after beating Chinese Taipei 31-6 before their home crowd in Colombo. It was their only win, but it was enough to lift them above Chinese Taipei and Korea in the standings after they also won one and lost two matches.
Hong Kong will join host nation Portugal, Oceania representatives Tonga, African champions Namibia, South American champions Uruguay and Fiji, the side relegated from the IRB Junior World Championship 2014, as the teams already confirmed in the Trophy draw in 2015.
The other two places will be filled by the regional qualifiers from North America and Europe.
Asian Junior Championship results
21/09/14 - Korea 31-28 Sri Lanka
21/09/14 - Hong Kong 44-5 Chinese Taipei
24/09/14 - Hong Kong 32-7 Sri Lanka
24/09/14 - Korea 7-24 Chinese Taipei
27/09/14 - Sri Lanka 31-6 Chinese Taipei
27/09/14 - Hong Kong 58-7 Korea
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