Mon, Mar 25, 2002 - Page 16 News List

Battered Taiwan falls short in HK, England jubilant

WALKING WOUNDEDTaiwan made it into the Bowl final but was ground down by Morocco, while England won the Hong Kong Sevens Cup against tournament favorites Fiji

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

England's Ben Gollings holds aloft the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after beating Fiji 33-20 at the Cup final of the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament in Hong Kong yesterday. It was only the second time that a side from the northern hemisphere had won the tournament in its 26-year history.

PHOTO: REUTERS

It was Sevens rugby, but Taiwan ended the game with six men, after a gallant effort to capture the Bowl championship fell just short yesterday at the Hong Kong Sevens.

In the dying seconds of the game and with a player lying injured on the field, Taiwan made a last-gasp effort to score the winning try but fell 25m short in a 15-12 loss to Morocco.

"We had a player on the field. We should have been allowed to replace him," said Taiwan's head coach Wu Mao-sheng after the game.

Rudderless

Already without captain Chen Chen-fu -- who was stretchered off the field in a loss to Papua New Guinea on Saturday -- Taiwan had four players taken off the pitch by stretcher yesterday.

"We were trying to get half games out of our players," said Wu. "But in the final, we just didn't have anyone left who could run. It's too bad that we came up just a little bit short."

In the quarterfinal against Russia, Pan Chih-ming went out early in the first half when he was hit in the head.

He was taken to hospital with a neck injury and his condition is being monitored.

The favored Russians scored first and after halftime things looked bleak after Wu Chih-wei was kneed under the ribs and also carried off.

Taiwan regrouped and tied the score on a try by Huang Yu-ming. After the ensuing kickoff, Wang Kuo-feng grabbed the ball and raced by the frozen Russians for the winning try and a 10-5 victory.

In the semifinal, Taiwan finally found its stride, demolishing Singapore 41-0 in a match that was as lopsided as the score indicated.

The win did not come without a price however, as Wang Kuo-feng was stretchered off with a knee injury.

In the final, Taiwan could not find its form in front of 40,000 fans, on a rain-soaked Hong Kong Stadium pitch.

Morocco put up three tries in the first half, with only Huang able to score for Taiwan.

Then, along came more casualties. Minutes after scoring, Huang was taken off the field and then teammate Chen Chi-chung limped off.

In the second half, Taiwan added a penalty try but could not make the final push for a game-winning score.

Despite the loss Wu said he was satisfied with his team's performance, which gave Taiwan a shot at winning its first Bowl title since 1988 and only its second overall in 18 appearances in Hong Kong.

"We played according to our plans. Still, our ultimate goal is still this summer's Asian Games and we wanted to use this tournament as a warm-up," Wu said.

Rampant roses

England was on top of the rugby world after a historic against-the-odds win against the Fijians, who were hot favorites to hammer the English after stopping mighty New Zealand in the semis.

James Simpson-Daniel ran in a hat-trick of tries while clubless student Simon Amor scored 13 points, including four conversions.

But, the hero of the England outfit was League convert Henry Paul, whose passing and movement were exemplary.

England ran out 33-20 winners in front of a partisan 40,000 crowd.

Earlier in the day favorites New Zealand were bundled out of the tournament in a bruising semifinal by 10-times winners Fiji 10-7.

It was Scotland 14 to the US' 10 in the Plate semifinal; while South Africa beat Scotland 48-7 in the Plate final.

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