HSBC Final Round of the Asian 5 Nations
Continuing with our tradition of covering rugby from all corners of the globe, Brisbanerugby.com found ourselves in Hong Kong, for the final round of the Asian 5 Nations at the weekend. The final match was between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan played at the recently refurbished Mong Kok Stadium in Kowloon. Trevor Gregory, Chairman of HKRFU, said, “It has been almost 20 years since we last played international rugby here, and we are very excited to be back!”
The 4pm kick off gave little reprieve from the humid, 30+ degree, southern China conditions that both teams had to endure. Hong Kong No. 10, Keith Robertson, got proceedings underway after Japanese referee, Akihisa Aso, blew time-on. And it wasn’t long thereafter that the home team’s outside centre, Alastair Maclay, was in under the posts in the 4th minute to score the first of his two tries for the afternoon and flanker Nicolas Hewson 2 minutes later. Robertson made no mistake with those two early conversions; commencing a perfect day with the boot where he collected 20 points. The Russians provided little more than an apposed training run for the locals, al biet some big hits that saw Kazakhstan’s lock, Anton Makarenko, yellow carded in the first half.
The match looked pretty much done and dusted by the half-time mark with 4 converted tries and 2 penalty goals having Hong Kong up 34-0; however the visitors enthralled the crowd with an improved second stanza display despite not troubling the scorers. A double for Maclay in the 55th minute, a penalty try and a brilliant cross-field kick from Robertson for the feisty Hong Kong winger, Rowan Varty, after the full-time siren saw the visitors 55-0 losers. The loss means that Kazakhstan will be deregulated from the Top 5 for next season making the way for the Philippines to make their debut in the Asian 5 Nations in 2013.
Once again, Japan won the 5th HSBC Asian 5 Nations Tournament since its inception in 2008, under newly appointed coach Eddie Jones, and will now focus their minds on retaining the Pacific Champions title they secured last year. The growing expansion of rugby in the Asia pacific is testament to the ongoing interest in this code. President of the Asian Rugby Football Union, Adisak Hemyoo, said, “This year’s competition sees 31 matches involving 25 member unions of the Asian Rugby Football Union in 9 countries. We are also excited to mark the debut of the newest Associate Member of the Asian Rugby Football Union, Afghanistan, in 2012”.