Malaysia v Hong Kong, Hong Kong got their Asia Rugby Championship 2018 campaign off to a winning start with a 67-8 win over hosts Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
Even with a heavy downpour an hour before the game, the opening 15 minutes were hotly contested with both sides testing each other’s defences.
Malaysia had a good period of possession but with a man in the sin bin, Hong Kong’s experience shone through as Number 8 Thomas Lamboley got over the whitewash off the back of a scrum.
Not long after, Malaysia conceded another penalty and fly-half Matthew Rosslee duly converted.
Malaysia fought back despite some scrappy periods of play but again Hong Kong’s dominance in the set-piece was on display as they scored their second try off the back of a scrum on Malaysia’s 5m line, Thomas Lamboley making it over again.
A third try soon after from full-back Jack Neville who jinxed through the Malaysia defence, saw Hong Kong tighten their grip in the game.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom in the opening half for Malaysia, as the clock ticked down to the halftime whistle, a powerful run from Malaysia Number 8 Etonia Vaqa Saukuru broke the Hong Kong line.
After being tackled to the ground he popped the ball up to Timoci Vunimoku and was able to get back up to receive the return ball to get over in the corner. Hong Kong struck back soon after to score another try on the whistle, Malaysia went into the changing rooms down, but not out.
The opening minutes of the second half started much like the first, but as the rain started to pour, the floodgates opened for Hong Kong. Winger Salom Yiu showing his Sevens pace down the line to get two tries in as many minutes. Malaysia continued to dig deep but Hong Kong’s patience continued to be rewarded as they continued to rack up points on the scoreboard.
They kept it tight in defence and offered Malaysia very little chance to get a foothold back into the game. Lock Jamie Pincott scored the try of the game as he powered through the Malaysian defence off the back of some intricate passed to bowl over the whitewash.
Hong Kong freshened up the line-up and their substitutes made an immediate impact with Harley, Kieth and Parfitt all getting their name on the board. Malaysia rallied in the last 10 minutes and strung together a few strong phases to test Hong Kong’s tired defence, and despite scoring a late penalty, it was too little to change ultimate result. Hong Kong claim their first win on the Asia Rugby Championship and now have a commanding point difference over second place Korea.
Hong Captain James Cunningham was happy with the performance but already has an eye on next weeks match against Korea.
“We stuck with our structure and got away with it today, which was good, hopefully, we can bring the same time of play next week against Korea who are going to be a strong team”
Despite the result, the Malaysian skipper Syahir Asraf Rosli was proud to have played another match in front of a supportive home crowd, but was conscious of the work that needed to be done ahead of their next match away from Kuala Lumpur.
“I think most of our team playing against Hong Kong in this atmosphere and environment should be something to be extremely proud of, but we need to get back on the two weeks of preparation and get ready for our away matches”
Malaysia v Hong Kong
Asia Rugby Championship 2018,
Rugby World Cup Qualifier 2019, #ARC2019