[Manila, Philippines, May 4 2013]: Hong Kong stayed on target to finishing second in the HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) Top Five competition after they comfortably defeated the Philippines 59-20 in Manila on Saturday.
A seven-try blitz in the second half paved the way for Hong Kong whose dominant pack laid the foundation for the victory, which ensured they would remain in the Top Five competition for next year’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“The scoreline flattered us in the end,” said Hong Kong head coach Leigh Jones. “I don’t think they deserved to shift 50 points. But I’m proud of my guys. They adapted to the conditions and came out in the second half fighting. They came of age today.”
A brace of tries from winger Jonny Rees sparked Hong Kong into action in the second half. Rees was on hand to complete fine work from centres David Whiteford and Ally Maclay as Hong Kong silenced the crowd at Rizal Stadium taking control of the match for the first time.
Number eight 8 Pale Tauti touched down soon after before Whiteford, who had a fine game, scored himself as Hong Kong strengthened its stranglehold on the match.
Seb Alfonsi, skipper Tom McColl and substitute winger Dennis Chang also touched down as the Philippines, down to 14 men, was blown aside. Mike Glancy knocked over five conversions before Niall Rowark took over the duties added two more.
Hong Kong had struggled to a 14-10 lead at the break being unable to break down a spirited defence from the home team cheered on by a vociferous crowd.
A dominant pack helped Hong Kong take the slender lead into the second-half with Japanese referee awarding the visitors two penalty tries as the Volcanoes collapsed scrums with their tryline under threat.
The second try came about after Philippines winger Joseph Matthews thought he had scored a breakaway try, only to see his effort overruled by the referee for an earlier offside penalty.
The turnaround was huge. From potentially stretching their lead to 10 points, the Philippines suddenly found themselves trailing by four points at the break.
Winger Patrice Olivier, a last-minute replacement for the injured Matt Saunders, was the hometown hero in the first half after he latched on to a neat chip kick from the left-foot of lock forward David Feeney and beat opposite number Jonny Rees to the tryline.
Flyhalf Alexander Aronson, who had knocked over a penalty earlier, added the extra points to give the Philippines the lead for the second time in the game. That was the only time they enjoyed it for Hong Kong came storming back in the second half to nail an easy win.
Philippines fullback Michael Letts gave some cheer to the home crowd in the second half when he scored his side's second try goalled by Aronson but it was small consolation.
Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones now has set his sights on finishing the Top Five in style by securing runner-up spot behind Japan.
“I think there is more in the tank from these guys. I don’t think it is over and we will be going to Korea for our final game in a fortnight aiming to win,” Jones said.