Hong Kong beat Korea 30-21 in an enthralling encounter in Incheon to put themselves in the driving seat to win this year’s Asia Rugby Championship.
The win, their second in two weeks, sees them go four points clear at the top of the standings and puts them favourites to qualify for the next stage of qualification for Rugby World Cup qualification – a play-off against the Cook Islands.
On a wet and windy day in Incheon it was the visitors who took an impressive 21-7 lead into half-time but had to hold on to their win after an impressive second half from Korea.
The visitors took the lead from Matthew Rosslee penalty, but the hosts scored the first try of the match through wing Jeong Min Jang – his third of the tournament.
Hong Kong restored their lead through tries from Tyler Spitz and Liam Slatem, and two further Rosslee penalties, to lead 21-7 at the break.
But, despite Rosslee adding his fourth penalty early in the second half to take the game further away from Korea captain Yong Seung Lee scored Korea’s second try of the match.
Following another well worked set piece from the hosts Youn Hyung Oh added the extras to bring Korea within two scores.
Jae Bok Lee scored Korea’s third try, powering his way over the line having knocked the ball on in the previous move. His try came either side of Rosslee’s fifth and sixth penalties, the Hong Kong fly half’s 20th points of the evening taking the match away from Korea.
Despite dominating the remaining possession and territory, the hosts were unable to get any closer to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong captain James Cunningham said: “I am really happy. We got the win which is what we came here for.
“We played some good footy but we did let the Koreans back in. We need to get rid of those errors though and we will then be a much better team if we can do that.
“Defensively there was some good shots, good composure and good line speed. We need to complete our tackles, but I am generally happy with how it went.”
Hong Kong have a rest week next weekend while Korea play host to Malaysia knowing a win will keep them in contention for the title.