Hong Kong v Japan in Tokyo (Asia5Nations)
Japan settled while Hong Kong make 5 changes ahead of HSBC A5N Top 5 clash in Tokyo
Japan hoping to make it a perfect 20 for 20 from HSBC A5N Top 5 matches
[Tokyo, May 18, 2012]: Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones has made five changes to his squad, while Japan coach Eddie Jones has opted for the tried and tested ahead of tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated Japan v Hong Kong clash in this year’s HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) Top 5 (Saturday May 19, kick-off at 14.00 Tokyo time).
Despite a “less than average performance” against South Korea, Jones has kept the same 22-man squad for Hong Kong at Tokyo’s Chichibunomiya Stadium. However he has made three changes to the starting XV that began last weekend’s 52-8 win in Seoul.
Takeshi Kizu gets the nod at hooker, Atsushi Hiwasa will start in the No. 9 jersey and Yu Tamura will wear 12 as Japan looks to win their 20th straight A5N game and fifth straight title.
“We need a good win to become Asian champions,” said Toshiaki Hirose, who will once again captain Japan from right wing. “It’s our first game in Tokyo this year and we want to give the crowd something to be proud of,” added Hirose.
Kizu is named ahead of Ryuhei Arita, Hiwasa takes over from Jun Fujii and Tamura starts instead of Harumichi Tatekawa.
"We needed to bring in some fresh legs," Jones said. "We have been training really hard and some of the young players have been struggling with the intensity."
Hiwasa – last year’s HSBC A5N Emerging Player of the Year – made a big difference off the bench last week against Korea, even though he has spent the last month training with Stade Francais.
"Fujii has done really well, but Hiwasa has the potential to be a world-class player. He has a natural passing and running game that suits the style of rugby we are trying to play," said Eddie Jones.
Hiwasa partners Kosei Ono at halfback, with Tamura and Tomohiro Senba in the centres, Hirose and Hirotoki Onozawa on the wings and HSBC A5N 2012 points leader Ayumu Goromaru at fullback.
In the pack, Kizu lines up in the front row alongside Yusuke Nagae and Kensuke Hatakeyama. Hitoshi Ono and Shinya Makabe retain their spots in the second row, while Yuta Mochizuki, Takamichi Sasaki and Michael Leitch line up in the back row.
“Our plan is to use our skill and fitness to tire Hong Kong out,” said Jones. However, he warned his team not to take the opposition lightly.
"Hong Kong 'beat' Japan in the second half of last year's game with the nucleus of the side they have this year, while we have only five players doubling up from a year ago," Jones said referring to the way Japan led 31-3 at halftime before allowing Hong Kong to finish the 2011 game at Hong Kong Football Club a 45-22 loser.
"They [Hong Kong] should have beaten Korea by 30 points two weeks ago. That loss will have fired them up and I expect them to be very aggressive and physical," added Jones.
While Japan enter with an established line-up, Hong Kong has made five changes, some enforced by injury, to the starting lineup that figured in the narrow loss to South Korea as they attempt to stop the Japan juggernaut in Tokyo on Saturday.
HKRFU Senior coach Leigh Jones, who has chopped and changed his 22-man squad which fell to a disappointing 21-19 loss at the hands of a resurgent Korean team a fortnight ago, is hoping to hand Japan its first taste of defeat in the history of the HSBC Asian Five Nations.
Leigh Jones has shored up his midfield by bringing in Anthony Haynes for his first HSBC A5N cap, as well as introduced a loose forward, Mark Wright, who is well versed with Japanese rugby, in an attempt to tighten up the defence and add bite to Hong Kong’s ability to win good ball at the breakdown.
Wright has played the last couple of seasons for Toyota Shokki Shuttles and it is hoped his familiarity with the quick-paced style of Japanese rugby will stand Hong Kong in good stead in their bid to pinch a surprise win.
“Sneaking a win would be great but what is important is we have to be realistic,” Jones said. “We need to get something out of this game and a couple of bonus points would mean we would have achieved something against Japan.”
To do that Hong Kong has to score four tries and finish within seven points of the high-flying Japanese who have registered scores of 50 plus against all of their other three opponents in the HSBC A5N Top 5 – United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Korea.
A great deal will depend on the new halves combination of Cado Lee and Keith Robertson. Scrumhalf Lee was on the bench against Korea and came on for Peter McKee who has failed to make the trip to Tokyo, while Robertson is returning from a shoulder injury in week 1 in Dubai, which saw him miss the last game.
There is still a question mark surrounding Robertson’s fitness. To make matters worse Hong Kong’s problems at pivot took a turn for the worse with Jamie Hood having to drop out at the last minute due to an injury. He has been replaced on the bench by Mike Glancy who started against Korea after first-choice fly half Keith Robertson’s injury.
The other change for Hong Kong is at fullback with Ross Armour starting. He switches places with Alex McQueen who is on the bench.
Apart from Wright replacing Mark Goosen, who is on the bench, the forward pack remains the same. Hong Kong will be looking at their Hong Kong Football Club front row trio of Ian Ridgway, Tom Bolland and Steve Nolan to lay the foundation for a solid performance.
“It will be a great challenge playing in Tokyo. What better way than testing the champions in their own backyard,” Jones said.
“It’s never great to face Japan on the back of a loss but being on a bye last week has given us time to analyse the game and where we went wrong, and to analyse the players,” Jones said.
While this game will be the end of the road for Japan in the 2012 HSBC A5N, Hong Kong have one more match against Kazakhstan, at home next weekend as the HSBC Asian 5 Nations marks its debut at the new Mong Kok Stadium (kick-off at 16.00).
Tomorrow will also see the third successive year of a women’s international curtain raiser between Japan and Hong Kong being played ahead of the venue. In 2010, Japan beat Hong Kong at Chichubonimya 17-0. Japan won the away match last year in Hong Kong 15-0. The Japan v Hong Kong women’s match will begin at 11.30 tomorrow. Gates open at 10.00am.
Tomorrow’s HSBC A5N Top 5 test match between Japan and Hong Kong will be broadcast LIVE around Asia on ESPN STAR Sports (starting at 13.55 Tokyo time) and into the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North America. For more information, please visit www.Asian5nations.com.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Sean Patrick Moore
Tournament Operations Manager
HSBC Asian 5 Nations
Last Five Encounters
30.04.2011 Japan 48-22 in Hong Kong (Asia5Nations)
22.05.2010 Japan 94-5 in Tokyo (Asia5Nations)
02.05.2009 Japan 59-6 in Hong Kong (Asia5Nations)
18.05.2008 Japan 75-29 in Niigata (Asia5Nations)
29.04.2007 Japan 73-3 in Tokyo (Asia Nations Div.1)
Japan Last Five
12.05.2012 v Korea W 52-8 in Seoul (Asia5Nations)
05.05.2012 v United Arab Emirates W 106-3 in Fukuoka (Asia5Nations)
28.04.2012 v Kazakhstan W 87-0 in Almaty (Asia5Nations)
22.09.2011 v Canada D 23-23 in Napier (World Cup, Pool A)
21.09.2011 v Tonga L 18-31 in Whangarei (World Cup, Pool A)
Hong Kong Last Five
05.05.2012 v Korea L 19-21 in Hong Kong (Asia5Nations)
27.04.2012 v United Arab Emirates W 85-10 in Dubai (Asia5Nations)
16.12.2011 v Brazil W 37-3 in Dubai (Cup of Nations)
13.12.2011 v Kenya W 44-17 in Dubai (Cup of Nations)
10.12.2011 v United Arab Emirates W 72-14 in Dubai (Cup of Nations)
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Japan 13th, Hong Kong 24th
Asia Table-Japan 1st, Hong Kong 3rd
IRB Ranking Points
Japan 70.45, Hong Kong 56.51
Prediction: Japan by 47 points
|15||Ross Armour||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|14||Yiu, Kam Shing||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|13||Anthony Haynes||Hong Kong Cricket Club|
|12||Lee Jones||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|11||Rowan Varty||DEA Tigers RFC|
|10||Keith Robertson||DEA Tigers RFC|
|9||Cado Lee||Kowloon RFC|
|8||Pale Tauiti (Capt.)||DEA Tigers RFC|
|7||Mark Wright||Toyota Shokki Schuttles, Japan|
|6||Nicholas Hewson||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|5||Daniel Watson||Hong Kong Football Club|
|4||Charles French||Hong Kong Cricket Club|
|3||Stephan Nolan||Hong Kong Football Club|
|2||Thomas Bolland||Hong Kong Football Club|
|1||Ian Ridgeway||Hong Kong Football Club|
|16||Jack Bennett||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|17||Alexander Harris||Kowloon RFC|
|18||Michael Waller||DEA Tigers RFC|
|19||Mark Goosen||Kowloon RFC|
|20||Timothy Alexander||Hong Kong Valley RFC|
|21||Michael Glancy||Hong Kong Football Club|
|22||Alexander McQueen||Hong Kong Cricket Club|
|HEAD COACH: Leigh Jones|
|14||Toshiaki Hirose (Capt.)||Toshiba|
|9||Atsushi Hiwasa||Stade Français, France|
|2||Takeshi Kizu||Kobe Steel|
|1||Yusuki Nagae||Chugoku Electric Power|
|16||Ryuhei Arita||Coca Cola|
|17||Hiroshi Yamashita||Chugoku Electric Power|
|18||Shoji Ito||Kobe Steel|
|19||Yusaku Kuwazuru||Coca Cola|
|HEAD COACH: Eddie Jones|