The alcohol from the Phnom Penh tour had barely left our veins before the Southerners Mixed Touch Rugby team were on their way again – this time to Hong Kong to participate in the Hong Kong International Touch Tournament on 12 May. It was evident from the lack of alcohol at the Friday night pre-tournament captains meeting, together with a thorough no-nonsense discussion of the International Rules of Touch, that this was going to be a serious competition, played at a higher level than what we are otherwise used to.  Well drilled teams from Singapore, Hong Kong and South China were thrown together in two pools of 5 in the mixed competition.

Despite the stature of the tournament, the Southerners performed excellently throughout the day, attacking with guile and defending with tenacity, creating problems for our younger, fitter opponents.  We fought well to limit the Thunder Development Squad (the Hong Kong National Champions) to five tries. We then took on a very confident Singapore Monsoon team who struggled to unlock our defensive patterns. We were able to match them for pace and creativity and scored two excellent tries, with Jim Pollard creating spaces and Duncan Healy and Ian Thornhill providing plenty of pace.

Throughout the day, our girls Kai Kim, Linda Belonje and Sarah Wilson controlled the ball well and always took the right options. Korin Tangtrakul was outstanding in attack, running perfect lines with great speed.  Mark Wood dictated our patterns, allowing Raphael Chaise, Duncan Healy and Jim Pollard to run into the gaps. Kitah was a rock in defence (he was even more solid in the boat race…(we will ignore the spillage)).  A great team performance all round and we were able to return home as Bowl Final Winners.

Scores as follows:
Southerners vs Thunder (HK):    0-5
Southerners vs Monsoon Avengers (Singapore):   2-2
Southerners vs Tsunami (HK) : 1-4
Southerners vs Blue Dragons (Hong Kong)  0-4
Bowl final Southerners vs  Shekou  7-3!

Many thanks to Linda Belonje for organizing the whole trip for us. Thanks also Mark Wood for his calm, patient coaching and captaincy. Thanks too to Liz Chu, Kong, Noda, John Pollard for strengthening our team at late notice.  Thanks too to the HK immigration authorities for overlooking Jim’s criminal record and allowing him into the country. We will be back in HK next year!

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