Hong Kong and Belgium continue their winning form in what was a drama-filled and thrilling second round of the 2012 Emirates Airline Cup of Nations XV’s Tournament at 7he Sevens, late Tuesday.
With Zimbabwe sliding one place in the IRB world rankings to 31st, after their round 1 loss to Hong Kong, the African Champions were out to reclaim pride in round 2’s opening game against Belgium. But in a game littered with lack of discipline, which saw 2 yellow cards issued to both sides and Belgium also receiving a red card, combined with basic errors both sides were left feeling deflated and Belgium with a consolation 28-11 win. Belgium full-back Alan Williams said “We’re very disappointed with our lack of discipline and it’s something we have to work on. We could have had the game earlier if we were more focused and disciplined.” Brendan Dawson, Zimbabwe’s Coach, tried to remain focused on the positives “We’re trying to achieve every time we’ve come out to play. 23 out of the 25 players we’ve brought over are 22 (years) and under so it’s a learning curve, there were a lot of positives and (hopefully) we can take those and use them in the next game”.
In the second game of the evening current EACON Champions, Hong Kong were the clear favourites over hosts UAE. Although the victor of this match-up was as expected, what played out for the full 80-minutes left a strong sense of pride in the ranks of the host-team, and an acknowledgement from a clearly superior side. Hong Kong lead from the start with the half-time score reading 32-6, however the hosts held fast, and although were not able to add to their own tally conceded only 19 points, in the second half, to give Hong Kong a 51-6 win. “I knew if they were going to put in a performance it would have been toward Hong Kong (and) all credit to them they come out and put in a gutsy performance” stated Hong Kong Senior Head Coach Leigh Jones. UAE Performance Manager and National Coach Duncan Hall re-affirmed that “Through this tournament we are after effort goals (and) the doubles, the defense, the lift in intensity the team brought tonight was fantastic and we’re very proud of them” “It gives us something to build on”. Captain Renier Els added "Coming back after such a defeat like we had against Belgium the guys really show character and we really went at them (Hong Kong) for the full 80-minutes”
The scene has now been set for a great afternoon of XV’s Rugby this Friday at 7he Sevens with hosts UAE facing Zimbabwe - both hungry for their first win - followed by Hong Kong against Belgium in the tournament decider.