Hong Kong China beat Kazakhstan to WXV 3 qualification

The hosts finished the Asia Rugby Women's Championship 2024 with a 22-0 victory against Kazakhstan to secure second place and their ticket to WXV 3 in Dubai, while maintaining their hopes of playing at Women's Rugby World Cup 2025.

Hong Kong China will make their WXV 3 debut in Dubai this September after they rounded off the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2024 with a resounding 22-0 victory against Kazakhstan.

Both sides went into the tournament finale at Hong Kong Football Club knowing that a win would ensure they finished second in the standings behind champions Japan and booked their ticket to Dubai.

Kazakhstan won the corresponding fixture in Almaty 12 months ago, but it was the hosts who opened the scoring midway through a cagey first half, and they pulled away in the second.

Ka Yan Chong crossed for the only try of the first half, while Natasha Olson-Thorne and Nga Wun Lau touched down after the break. Zoe Smith finished the match with seven points from the kicking tee.

Victory means that Hong Kong China remain in the hunt for a place at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 through WXV 3 this September and October.

“During the game there were a lot of tough moments but that was a team effort. We prepared for a long time for the ARC and we got the result we wanted,” Hong Kong China captain Wai Yan Pun said.

“We wanted to fight back [from last year’s result]. So, we prepared for a long time and that game was definitely a motivation for us to keep going forward and keep our World Cup dream going.”

Hong Kong China’s players had watched their male counterparts ease to a 52-5 victory against The United Arab Emirates in Asia Rugby Men’s Championship 2024 at Hong Kong Football Club.

But they were made to work harder for the win by a resolute Kazakh defence, which held firm until the 22nd minute, when Olson-Thorne and Lau helped to suck in their opposition and Chong exploited the space out wide.

Smith added an impressive conversion from close to the right-hand touchline but that would be the way the score remained at the half-time whistle.

Winger Smith got the scoreboard ticking once again with a penalty early in the second half before Olson-Thorne burrowed over from close range, following more good work from Chong.

Despite their 15-point advantage, it remained an arm wrestle for the hosts and their next score owed itself to the strength of loose-head prop Lau, who drove over the line with a little under 21 minutes to play.

To their credit, Kazakhstan refused to buckle even with the game lost and did not allow their hosts to breach their line in the final quarter. Smith could have extended Hong Kong China’s lead from the tee, but her efforts fell short.

Hong Kong China are the fifth nation to confirm their place at WXV 3, following the Netherlands, Madagascar, Fiji and Samoa in booking their ticket to Dubai.

Those teams will be joined by the loser of the play-off between Wales and Spain on 29 June. The top six non-qualified nations at the end of WXV will secure qualification for Women’s RWC 2025 in England.

(Photo credit: HKCR/AR- Ike Images)

Last updated: Jun 1, 2024, 1:08:15 PM
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