Hong Kong China have booked their place at World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024 after winning the Asia Rugby U19 title for the eighth consecutive year.
Playing on home soil at Kings Park, Hong Kong China defeated Chinese Taipei 22-7 before an emphatic 62-7 win over Korea saw them retain the trophy.
Korea had also beaten Chinese Taipei in their first game, 47-21, meaning everything was on the line in the final fixture of the triangular tournament.
However, Korea were no match for Hong Kong China on the day, the hosts racing into a 26-0 half-time lead.
Benedict Sheldon was the first to cross in the first five minutes, burrowing over from close range, before Dominic Hedley showed a great turn of pace to land a second blow for Hong Kong China.
Isaac Campbell Wu was the next to score from a charged down kick and Blake Elliot, who impressed throughout, added a fourth from a slick scrum move.
Wu kicked a penalty at the start of the second half to extend Hong Kong China’s lead to 29-0 before Luke Morrow crossed for try number five after another bust through the middle from captain Oli Clarke had put Korea on the back foot.
Hedley crashed over for a well-deserved second and then replacement front-rower Lucas Molyneux pounced on a handling mistake from Korea fly-half Chanhee Lee as Hong Kong China continued to rack up the points.
Credit to Korea, though, they never gave up the fight and they got some reward approaching the hour mark when loose-head Sungli Choe burst away from a lineout on an unstoppable run to the line.
Normal order was resumed not long after with replacement Marco Conti finishing off a well-worked lineout move as Hong Kong China brought up their half century.
Hong Kong Football Club’s Luke Bannon then hit a great line off the shoulder of Wo to score under the posts at his home ground in the final play of the match.
With Japan already relegated to the Trophy, Asia will have two representatives at next year’s tournament.
Hong Kong China have competed at every World Rugby U20 Trophy tournament since 2014 with a best finish of sixth in 2018.
The Joseph Barker-coached team become the third team to successfully come through the regional qualification process after first-time European qualifiers the Netherlands and last year’s U20 Trophy runners-up Uruguay.