Women's Rugby World Cup: Wales 39-15 Hong Kong

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport in Dublin
Wales vs Hong Kong. Wales Shona Powell-Hughes and Lee Ka Shun of Hong Kong
Shona Powell-Hughes drove over the line for an early Wales try
Wales v Hong Kong
Wales (17) 39
Tries: Powell-Hughes, Phillips, Joyce, Kavanagh-Williams (2), Harries (2) Con: J Evans, Wilkins
Hong Kong (10) 15
Tries: Olson-Thorne, Ka Yan Con: Garvey Pen: Garvey

Wales avoided an embarrassing defeat against Hong Kong to win their final World Cup pool match.

Hong Kong took a shock lead as Natasha Olson-Thorne broke through, but Wales rallied with tries for Jess Kavanagh-Williams and Jasmine Joyce.

World Cup debutants Hong Kong refused to buckle and scored again through Chan Ka Yan to reduce the deficit to 17-15.

But Kavanagh-Williams, captain Carys Phillips and Sioned Harries [twice] crossed to save Wales' blushes.

Already out of semi-final contention, Wales will now enter the play-offs to decide fifth to eighth places.

Wales, who are the eighth seeds, will play against the fifth-placed Canadians.

Wales were expected to breeze through their final pool game, given the fact World Cup newcomers Hong Kong had been demolished 121-0 by New Zealand and 98-0 by Canada in their previous two fixtures.

However, Rowland Phillips' side struggled badly and found themselves camped on their own try line early in the game.

They appeared to have settled when Shona Powell-Hughes drove over from close range, but a major upset looked to be on the cards when Olson-Thorne tore through the Welsh defence to score Hong Kong's first World Cup try.

Wales were sloppy in possession and seemed startled by their opponents' intensity, and it was not until midway through the second half - with scores from Kavanagh-Williams, Phillips and Harries - that they pulled clear of the Pool A minnows.

Wales vs Hong Kong. Wales Mel Clay with Christy Cheng and Chan Ka Yan Hong Kong
Wales scored 22 points as they took the game away from Hong Kong in the second half

Until their meeting with Wales, this had been a chastening World Cup debut for Hong Kong, who had failed to score a single point in their thrashings at the hands of Canada and New Zealand.

Their 121-0 mauling against the Black Ferns was a particularly alarming result, prompting some to question if such mismatches risked undermining the competition as a spectacle.

But they answered those critics in fine fashion, playing an energetic and aggressive brand of rugby which rattled Wales and helped produce one of the most entertaining matches of this tournament.

Hong Kong tackled ferociously and looked to play expansive rugby where possible and, although they ultimately fell short, their spirited display gave hope for future World Cup appearances.

Wales captain Carys Phillips told BBC Wales Sport:

"Especially in that first half, it wasn't the way we wanted to perform. We gave away too many penalties, which cost us.

"Credit to Hong Kong to have their first points of the tournament but we definitely didn't want that.

"We pulled it around in the second half and stuck to what we do, and we came back and won.

"It was a great performance for them but, looking at us, we need to make sure we go back to our own processes from the off and work on our discipline."


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