ARC 2024: HONG KONG HAND MALAYSIA A MAULING

KUALA LUMPUR: The national rugby squad suffered a second consecutive mauling when they capitulated 70-6 to reigning champions Hong Kong in the Premier Division of the Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) in Serdang today. The Hibiscus, as the national rugby team are called, can still meet their target of achieving at least one win when they meet the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their last match on June 21. A victory over the UAE will keep them in the Premier Division next season. Today's match, which was delayed by 30 minutes due to a downpour at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Stadium, saw Hong Kong go 7-0 up after just six minutes with a try by Alex Post and a conversion by Glyn Hughes before Malaysia reduced the deficit to 7-3 three minutes later with a Lee James Chapman penalty. But it was then all one-way traffic as Hong Kong racked up the points to go 42-3 ahead, thanks to a penalty try as well as tries by Paul Altier (two), Tyler McNutt and Joshua Mark Hrstich, which were all converted by Altier (thre e) and Hughes. In the second half, Hong Kong continued from where they left off, going 49-3 ahead with a try by Faizal Solomona in the 43rd minute that was converted by Altier. Malaysia managed to get on the scoreboard when Chapman chipped in with his second penalty for the Hibiscus squad in the 56th minute to trail 49-6. That could not stem the tide as Hong Kong scored three more tries through Joshua Mark Hrstich, Calum Scott and Jamie Pincott, with Matteo Avitabile (two) and Altier converting to complete their 70-6 win - their second victory after trouncing the UAE 52-5 on June 1. On Sunday (June 2), the Hibiscus squad began their 2024 ARC campaign on a losing note, getting thrashed 55-5 by South Korea. Meanwhile, national coach Mohd Farid Syazwan Abu Bakar attributed their defeat today to Hong Kong's players being bigger. "I think we need to have more detailed physical training in the future but, for now, we must focus on completing our ARC fixtures,' he said. On the match against the UAE, he said t hey would need to tighten up their defensive play and ball possession. Despite the huge defeat, skipper Mohamad Nasharuddin Ismail felt that they played much better than against South Korea in the opening match. Source: BERNAMA News Agency