Hong Kong and Belgium set for EACON decider

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 12 December 2012
 Hong Kong and Belgium set for EACON decider
Belgium made it two wins from two in the Cup of Nations by beating Zimbabwe - Photo: UAE Rugby

Hong Kong and Belgium will meet on Friday to determine the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations 2012 champions after both made it two wins from two matches at 7he Sevens with victories over the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe respectively on Tuesday.

Hong Kong, the defending champions, ran in eight tries in a 51-6 victory over familiar opponents UAE, but captain Tom McColl was far from happy with the performance, which came three days after a 22-7 win over Zimbabwe.

“It is good to get a win but we didn’t execute everything we wanted to do,” admitted McColl. “We made quite a few mistakes and our concentration dipped at times. We have to stay focused and composed.

“We knew they would be up for it and it was quite a physical game. Four years ago we lost to the Arabian Gulf (in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations) and we knew it wouldn’t be an easy encounter. But we have achieved what we wanted to do which was to meet Belgium on the final day with the title at stake.”

The match was over at half-time with Hong Kong leading 32-6 after tries from Kenneth Hiesh, Sebastian Alfonsi, Alex Harris, Stewart Megraw and Guy Payn, but the hosts restricted them to just three tries after the break.

“If someone had asked me if I would be happy with a 50-something scoreline before the game I would have taken it – it is better than losing by 90 points,” admitted UAE coach Duncan Hall in reference to a 94-3 loss to Belgium on day one.

The other match on day two saw Belgium run out 28-11 winners over Zimbabwe, who played much of the first 20 minutes of the second half down to 13 men after three yellow cards from referee Toby Lothian.

Belgium made the most of their men advantage to turn around an 11-8 deficit at half time with prop Julien Massimi started the comeback with a 44th minute try. Belgium, though, would end the match with 14 men after replacement Alain Mirialakis was sent off in the 53rd minute.

The title showdown on Friday between Belgium and Hong Kong should be an interesting one with the two sides separated by just five places in the IRB World Rankings, the Europeans ranked 23rd and Hong Kong 28th.

The two sides have never met before but will want to secure the title and a confidence boost ahead of beginning their quest to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 next year, something Zimbabwe and UAE will also hope for as they attempt to finish third.