Friday 30th March 2007
England 38 Hong Kong 7
Defending four time champions England made a good start on day one of the Hong Kong Sevens today, beating the hosts 38 7. The pressure is on England to make it an unprecedented five wins in a row, and despite some first day errors, they seemed to be showing good form. England scored six tries (including two to England Under 20 captain Danny Care) to Hong Kong's one.
Having only played 19 seconds on his only previous appearance for England Sevens (in Hong Kong in 2004), NEC Harlequins winger Tom Williams started England on their way with a try within the first minute. The 23 year old spent 14 years living in Hong Kong as a youngster and was a popular figure with the crowd this evening. With humidity above 85% and a temperature of over 28 degrees despite being early evening, the England players coped well with the conditions and delighted the largely ex-pat crowd.
Captain Simon Amor (London Wasps) soon followed Williams on the score sheet with an impressive chip and run which he managed to just touch down in time.
The hosts were certainly no walk over and attacked well with a young side who showed glimpses of fast pace, and good organisation. Their efforts didn't go unrewarded as Hong Kong's Cheuk scored to make it 14 7 to England.
There were some mistakes in England's play but Dave Seymour (Saracens) defended well to prevent another Hong Kong score. Just before half time sevens regular - and the only non London premiership player on the pitch - Andy Vilk (Sale Sharks) crossed the line thanks in part to Tom Williams.
England led 21 7 at the break.
In his first Hong Kong tournament, Commonwealth silver medallist Danny Care scored two early tries in the second half to widen England's lead, including an impressive run down the side line in which he outpaced several Hong Kong defenders.
In a tournament where points difference can play a vital role, England needed another score and thanks to David Doherty (London Wasps) they got it before the match finished.
England face Korea at 14.10 tomorrow (Saturday 31st March) local / 7.10am BST.
Speaking after the match England Sevens coach Ben Ryan was pleased with the opening performance. "We dominated the match but are disappointed we let in a try. The first game is always a bit of a blow out and we have several players who haven't played sevens for a while so that was useful. We have some areas to work on but at least we have a win under our belt. Tomorrow is all about our match against Korea - you can't look any further ahead than that."
Captain Simon Amor said, "That was a tough game and a good Hong Kong side. They were very fit and fast and certainly caused us a few problems. But that is a good thing as it helps us learn what we need to work on for tomorrow."
Tom Williams said, "It was great to be back in Hong Kong and playing in front of the crowd. This is where I began my rugby career so it is full of very good memories for me. It is always nice to get a try on board early in the tournament. The crowd was bigger than I expected today but I guess we were playing Hong Kong. I may have lived here for a long time but I still struggled with the humidity - it was tough playing in such heat."
David Doherty said, "That was a great start for us, and a really spirited performance. I am glad I got a try and really enjoyed the match. The crowd were just fantastic - despite some boos when we scored as we were playing Hong Kong! It was unbelievably humid though but the win has spurred us on to bigger and better things tomorrow hopefully."
Ben Russell (Saracens), who played in last year's Hong Kong winning squad said, "It was ridiculously humid which meant the ball was a big greasy but we still controlled the ball well and won. It is unbelievable being back playing here. It brings back so many amazing memories from last year and I certainly got a tingle in my body when I ran out of the tunnel to the noise of the crowd. Hong Kong fought back well against us and should go on to do well in the rest of the tournament. I wish them good luck."
Dave Seymour (Saracens) said "I had forgotten how tough playing sevens was! When we played here last year we had played sevens for three weeks as we had been to the Commonwealth Games so were used to the heat and the physical demands. That was a harsh reminder to my body of what sevens is like. The last minute felt like forever!"
England - Tries: Williams, Amor, Vilk, Care (2), Doherty
Conversions: Amor (4)
Simon Amor, captain, (London Wasps); Danny Care (NEC Harlequins); David Doherty (London Wasps); Ben Russell (Saracens); Dave Seymour (Saracens); Tom Williams (NEC Harlequins); Andy Vilk (Sale Sharks)
Reps: Jack Adams (Gloucester); Tony Roques (Exeter Chiefs)
Not used: Nils Mordt (London Irish); Charlie Amesbury (NEC Harlequins); James Brooks (London Wasps)
From - Nigel D'Acre; Ricky Cheuk; Andrew Chambers; Colin Bisley; Jeff Wong; Justin Gregory; Keith Robertson; Kenzo Pannell; Kris Martin; Mark Wright; Rowan Varty; Tsang Hing Hung
Referee: L Legoete (SA)
WATCH INTERVIEWS FROM HONG KONG WITH THE SPECIAL SEVENS VODCAST. Click on the link on www.rfu.com/sevens for day one's clips.