Sun, Mar 24, 2002 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan fails to bring down Canada

NICE TRY Taiwan made an effort but failed to make an impression at the Hong Kong Sevens tournament yesterday, losing against both Canada and Papua New Guinea

By Jeffrey Wilson  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER , WITH AFP, HONG KONG

Canada's Winston Stanley, front, is tackled by Taiwan's Wang Kuo-feng in their Hong Kong Sevens rugby match yesterday. Canada won 12-5.

PHOTO: REUTERS

An encouraging start but a disappointing finish summed up Taiwan's performances yesterday at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Taiwan fell to Canada 12-5 and lost to Papua New Guinea 21-14. As a result it was relegated to the Bowl competition today.

Taiwan will face Russia in the quarterfinals.

Taiwan's squad started well against the Canucks, holding Canada to a scoreless tie at half time. Both sides found footing difficult on the pitch which was soaked by heavy-morning rains.

The Canadians came out of the half-time break a better team, scoring two tries and keeping Taiwan constantly on defense.

Taiwan finally put some points on the board when Wang Kuo-feng faked a pass and snuck through from 8m to score a try.

Though Taiwan was beaten, it made a solid effort against a Canadian team which later in the day upset South Africa.

Taiwan had expected to finish pool play with a win over Papua New Guinea (PNG), which was making is first appearance in the Hong Kong Sevens since 1999.

But Taiwan received an unlucky blow just 30 seconds into the match.

Team captain Chen Chen-fu went down with a thigh injury and was carried off the field on a stretcher.

The Taiwanese were able to momentarily bounce back from the loss of their leader when Pan Kuei-chih snuck between the posts for a try.

PNG responded with a try of its own, after which Taiwan put together a string of passes that culminated in a superb try, with Wu Chih-wei racing in from 40m to give Taiwan a 14-7 lead.

Taiwan's teamwork then fell apart in the second half, as light rain continued to fall and the pitch deteriorated.

The larger, more athletic PNG players coped with the conditions better and went ahead with two tries as Taiwan was pinned down in its own end.

Taiwan's head coach Wu Mao-sheng said he was displeased with the result.

"We made way too many errors. Maybe it was because our best line-up was not out there," said Wu, who watched his team make nine handling errors and miss three tackles against PNG.

"To have our team captain get injured and go out messed up our chemistry. It put us off balance."

Meanwhile, tournament legend Waisale Serevi scored 21 points as Fiji compiled the highest total of the competition so far -- 66 to zero against hapless China.

The three-times player of the tournament ran in a try and kicked eight conversions as China was buried under a mountain of points.

Blustery weather threatened to blow South Africa's campaign off-course, but the team muddled through a tricky encounter with a surprisingly resilient PNG to come out 24-7 winners.

But it was a different matter against Canada, which romped to a 14-19 victory and relegated the South Africans to the unglamorous Plate series today.

Australia, England and Wales came through their matches unscathed but Scotland, who suffered a reverse at the hands of Portugal on Friday, contrived to let Sri Lanka score twice before coming through 19-10 winners.

Favorites New Zealand shrugged off the wet and windy conditions to dispatch doughty Portugal 54-0.

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