Hong Kong Rugby won the inaugural Asia-Pacific Cross-Regional Sevens Cup final in East Malaysia.
Hong Kong beat Tonga 24-0
Hong Kong beat Tonga to win the inaugural ARFU Asia-Pacific Cross-Regional Sevens final in Sandakan, East Malaysia, for a major boost ahead of the HSBC Sevens World Series qualifying tournament at the end of March.
Tonga, who had defeated Hong Kong 21-19 in the group stage, had no answer to a clinical, disciplined performance from Gareth Baber’s men, who scored four unanswered tries to win the final of a tournament featuring teams from Asia and Oceania.
The McQueen brothers, Tom and Alex, scored early for Hong Kong, who capitalised on Tonga losing a man to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle. Winger Salom Yiu Kam-shing added a third to give the reigning Asian Sevens Series champions a 17-0 lead at half-time.
Fierce defence kept Tonga at bay before long-serving Rowan Varty added the icing on the cake with Hong Kong’s fourth try.
Baber was delighted with the victory, four weeks ahead of the 12-team HSBC Sevens World Series qualifier, which will be held at the Hong Kong Stadium as part of the Hong Kong Sevens for a second straight year.
“This is a huge boost for us as we look ahead to the Hong Kong Sevens and the qualifying tournament for core-team status,” Baber said.
“You can’t hope for more. We had one or two performances where we were not at our best, but this is what this three-day tournament was all about. We are now gelling as a team and coping with stress situations. We have been very mature on the field.”
Hong Kong, the only Asian men’s team to beat the Oceania sides this weekend, knocked out Papua New Guinea 24-12 in the Cup semi-final while Tonga beat Sri Lanka 26-17.
Hong Kong, Tonga and PNG will all figure in the 12-team qualifying tournament at the Hong Kong Sevens to decide which team wins core-team status on the 2015/16 Sevens World Series.
Tonga coach Andy Katoa said: “I’m disappointed in the way we finished off, but that is just part of the process of where we are and part of our development. You want to go out with all guns blazing and not the way we did.
“Today we got a lesson. Hong Kong were the better team. We got outplayed and out-coached, but we will get better. Now our focus is to have a good three weeks before we head to Hong Kong.”
Papua New Guinea bounced back from their semi-final loss to hammer Sri Lanka 33-7 in the Plate final.
Japan won the women’s competition by beating East Asian rivals China in the Cup final.
In the women’s competition, Japan continued their strong form into Sunday, as they upended Asian Games gold medallists China 22-7 in the final. In an all-Oceania plate final, Samoa beat Papua New Guinea 24-19.
Hong Kong winger Aggie Poon Pak-yan continued her outstanding performance in the women’s competition as she totalled 117 points over the three days. Poon scored 25 points including a hat-trick of tries in the 55-0 Bowl final win against Thailand, with Lindsay Varty grabbing a brace.