Hong Kong v Korea in Seoul (WCQ Asia; Asia 5 Nations)
Venue: Ansan Wa Stadium, Ansan
Referee: Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan)
Press release form media esa
[Manila, Philippines, May 17, 2013]: The 2013 HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Top 5 comes to an exciting close on Saturday (May 18) as South Korea and Hong Kong joust for runners-up bragging rights while Philippines hosts United Arab Emirates in a do-or-die battle to avoid relegation.
Hong Kong will head into the final week of action in the Top Five intent on securing second spot behind Japan but it is at the other end of the standings that the real bun fight awaits, with the United Arab Emirates desperate to avoid being relegated in the crucial away tie against the Philippines.
With an eye on the 2015 Rugby World Cup Asian qualifiers, Hong Kong will be hoping to wrap up the 2013 season on a high note as they take on South Korea in Ansan on Saturday.
“We want to try and finish second and boost our confidence for next season when a similar finish in this tournament will win us the repechage spot in the fight for a World Cup berth,” said Hong Kong captain Tom McColl.
“Our goal has always been to finish second to Japan and we know how important it will be to the morale of this team, especially as we have shown that we now have some depth and can still be competitive despite missing a number of key players,” McColl added.
Hong Kong played the entire season without their sevens players who had been tasked with gaining core team status in the IRB Sevens World Series. Hong Kong failed in that bid, losing in the quarterfinals of the London Sevens last weekend.
Head coach Leigh Jones has made three changes to the side that defeated the Philippines in Manila a fortnight ago with hooker Alex Harris and tight-head prop Steve Nolan starting. At flyhalf Niall Rowark comes in for Mike Glancy who will be on the bench.
But Hong Kong will miss giant lock forward Dan Watson who has been lost to the city due to relocation due to work.
“We will have to make sure that we are in the game at the end of the first 20 minutes and are in touch at the break. If we can do that, I’m confident we can push Korea. But it will be tough playing in their own backyard,” Jones said.
Hong Kong defeated both the UAE and the Philippines by scores of 50-plus, but the Koreans will be a different ball game. Last year, Korea defeated Hong Kong narrowly, scoring a try in the final minutes of the game at Hong Kong Football Club.
South Korea coach Park Kihaeng, commented on his team’s progress through this year’s Top 5 saying, “We have done enough to remain in the frame for Rugby World Cup qualification which was the ultimate goal. I am pleased that we have improved in each match we have played this year.”
“Now we want to finish in second as it will be a strong way to end this year’s campaign with a good win at home. That will be a good starting point for next year’s Rugby World Cup qualifier but we are not taking Hong Kong lightly. They have an impressive defence and a strong attack. It should be a very tight game,” added Park.