Hong Kong ran out comfortable 51-0 winners in their Asia/Oceania play-off second leg at the Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2019.
The Asia Rugby Championship 2018 winners will now take their place alongside Canada, the loser of the Samoa v Germany play-off – the Pacific Islanders won the first leg 66-15 last weekend – and the Rugby Africa Gold Cup runners-up in the four-team global repechage in November that will determine the 20th and final qualifier for Japan 2019.
While Hong Kong only needed to avoid a loss of more than 23 points to advance, having won the first leg 26-3 in Rarotonga last weekend, coach Leigh Jones had predicted that more was to come from his charges, and they duly delivered with a six-try shutout of the Cook Islands at home.
Congratulations to Hong Kong who have secured a spot in the #RWC2019 repechage this November after beating the Cook Islands.— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) July 7, 2018
They will join Canada and two other teams TBC in November, with a spot in Pool B at Rugby World Cup 2019 up for grabs. https://t.co/N4swQQPLNX
After the game Jones said: “Our defence was superb. I can’t single anyone out, but as a whole, to keep two clean sheets, especially away in the Cook Islands, was really difficult to do.”
Looking ahead to the repechage and Hong Kong’s bid to reach a first-ever Rugby World Cup, Jones believes that his side has sent a message to the opposition this November.
“I think we sent a real strong message now. If you look at the Cook Islands, with so many players playing in top rugby competitions around the world, it is going to take a good side to beat us now.”
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