Hong Kong & South Korea to battle for 2nd place in Asian F

Japan may have romped away with the Asian Five Nations rugby title but Hong Kong and South Korea are battling for second spot as they seek to end their campaigns on a high this weekend.


Japan’s four-game clean sweep saw them rack up 310 points to confirm their position as top dogs in Asian rugby.


But despite a 75-29 thumping in Japan last week, Hong Kong head coach John Walters is keeping faith in his players by sticking with the same team.


“The team is looking pretty fierce. We’re looking forward to finishing with a good performance,” Walters said.


“The boys worked hard for two to three months, so they really want this. We definitely want to beat Korea and improve our standing in the rankings.”


Fit-again skipper Semi Iafeta wants to keep alive a record of not having lost at home for the past year, and is keen to prove their 27-20 win over the same opponents in a 2007 Test match was no fluke.


“Finishing second will be fabulous as it will seal our status as the number two team in Asia,” he said.


But South Korea are using their defeat last year as motivation, with skipper and prop Kim Kwang-Mo saying his side were determined to avenge that loss.


“Japan has already won the Asian Five Nations. We feel Korea is the second best team in Asia,” he said.


“Since last year Hong Kong has been improving rapidly, but we’ll wait until tomorrow to see who truly is Asia’s second best team.”

 

Kim pointed to Hong Kong’s forward power, saying Korea would be looking to counter that by relying on their speed.

Hong Kong and South Korea each have two wins and one loss going into their fourth and final match in the southern Chinese territory on Saturday.


South Korea, who ran in six tries when they powered past Kazakhstan 40-21 last weekend, are on 12 points, two ahead of Hong Kong. Their tally includes a bonus point from each of the two matches they won for scoring four or more tries.


The two teams are close together in the world rankings, with South Korea at 23, five places ahead of Hong Kong.


In the other match this weekend, the Arabian Gulf travel to Kazakhstan with the losers facing relegation.


This tournament, in its first year, is the pinnacle of four newly formed tiers of competition across 25 Asian rugby unions, with the last-placed team in the top tier being relegated to the 2009 division one competition.


Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com

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