Hong Kong beat Korea 39-5 at the Hong Kong Football Club to claim their first-ever Asia Rugby Championship title.
On an historic day for the hosts, their win saw them go unbeaten in this year’s Top 3 and, as well as lifting the ARC trophy, qualify for the next stage of Rugby World Cup qualification.
Having won this year’s tournament Hong Kong now face the Cook Islands in a home and away play-off. The winner of that will then head to the final RWC repechage for a chance to take the coveted 20th and last place at next year’s event.
Captain James Cunningham said: “I am ecstatic, the boys really put in there. We started fast and the Koreans couldn’t keep up with us.
“It is great to move on, we have done exactly what we needed to do, scored some great tries and done exactly what we needed to do.
“It feels unreal, it is a real historic moment today for Hong Kong to win their first ARC, and to go on to face the Cook Islands now is a great. We have done something special today and are all looking forward to the next trip.”
On a sweltering day at the Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong came out of the blocks in impressive fashion and never really looked back, with Korea starved of possession and territory throughout the opening forty minutes.
Matthew Rosslee continued his impressive form and scored Hong Kong’s first try before Liam Slatem added their second after a fine break from Jack Neville.
In his 44th international Yiu Kam Shing scored their third and, despite Toby Fenn’s effort being ruled out, Slatem’s second try after a powerful break from Conor Hartley secured the all-important bonus point for Hong Kong with a 31-0 lead at half-time.
The heat took its toll in the second half and Korea limited Hong Kong to just one penalty in the first 10 minutes and scored their first try of the match minutes later.
After a sustained period of possession and a number of penalties, the visitors managed to get on the score sheet through captain Yong Seung Lee who stormed over.
But the damage had been done and despite Korea looking stronger in the second half, Jamie Lauder scored Hong Kong’s only try in the second half with five minutes to go to add icing to the cake.
Hong Kong now travel to the Cook Islands on 30 June before hosting them a week later on 7 July, with the winner heading to the repechage in November.