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Hong Kong fall just short against Russia

Hong Kong came agonisingly close to taking down Russia in their opening match of the Regal Hotels Cup of Nations at King’s Park on Friday night, ultimately falling 16-13 to a last-minute penalty.

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After fighting their way back from 10 points down at half-time to level the scores, Hong Kong were left shattered as Russia fly half RamilGaysin slotted the winning penalty.

“On the whole, reasonably happy we are making progress, utterly disappointed with the result,” Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones said.

“We are becoming more physical, we stood up to the physical onslaught of Russia and bounced back and came at them in the second half. So that shows the benefit of our professional programme, being able to do that.”

Hong Kong got off to a shaky start, with debutant Conor Hartley dropping the opening kick-off and Gaysin opening the scoring with a penalty.

But the hosts settled quickly and fly half Matt Rosslee squared things away with a penalty of his own on 10 minutes.

What followed was an intense period in which both sides defended and attacked with vigour, with Hong Kong moving the ball well but also snuffing out any of Russia’s attacking moves when needed.

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The next score came in the 30th minute, with Gaysin converting a straightforward penalty that led to Hong Kong hooker DayneJans receiving a yellow card.

The score remained 6-3 until the dying stages of the first half, with Russia again on the board through a lineout drive.

It was hooker StanislavSelskii who dotted down, with Gaysinadding the extras to make it 13-3 at the break.

Hong Kong drew first blood in the second half, with Rossleeknocking over a 52nd-minute penalty.

Russia began to build momentum as the second half wore on, however a number of misplaced kicks halted their progress and ensured some respite for the hosts.

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Hong Kong refused to lie down and a number of handling errors indicated Russia were beginning to tire.

Hong Kong capitalised on 67 minutes, with Cado Lee Ka-to dishing off to winger SalomYiuKam-shing for a try, with Rosslee’s extras levelling proceedings at 13-13.

But try as they might, Hong Kong couldn’t quite keep the Russians out despite defending grimly in the dying minutes.

Gaysin first missed a drop goal while the referee was playing advantage, before returning to split the middle from the earlier penalty.

“Our scrum against Russia I thought was outstanding, our line-out needs to continue to improve,” Jones said.

“I think if I had to point to an area where we couldn’t secure enough ball, it would have been our line-out.

“Then we can’t secure enough territory and then we are getting into this downward spiral.

“If our line-out functions, we can get a foothold in their territory and we can build our game, so our line-out needs to improve.”

Jones was pleased with the overall effort of his team and was loathe to single out players, however he admitted hooker DayneJans and captain Nick Hewson, in his 50th test, both showed plenty.

LexKaleca was also at his imposing best, while Toby Fenn, James Cunningham and Jamie Hood all made an impact.

Jones also praised the work of his replacements, with the likes of second rower Kyle Sullivan and Lee coming on and making their presence felt.

“The bench actually made a difference, they added some zip which is what you want to see as a coach,” Jones said. “I’m quite pleased with what the subs added to the game, all credit to them.”

The earlier match between tournament debutants Chile and Kenya saw Chile lead 6-3 after a tight first half before pulling away to win 23-3.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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