Rugby: Singapore playing for more than pride

Hong Kong captain Jamie Hood, Singapore vice-captain Bryan Ng and Japan captain Katsuyuki Sakai

Bryan Ng and his team will be fuelled by more than national pride as they take on China and Hong Kong in the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium last Saturday.

Also at stake is a place for the Singapore team at next year's Asian Games in Incheon.

Ng and his teammates are aiming to finish sixth in the Singapore leg - the last of the four-city series - in order to meet the Singapore National Olympic Council's selection criteria for team sports for the Asiad.

The 26-year-old said: "Sevens is a recovery game and we have been improving on our (post-game) recovery through altitude training since last month.

"We want to finish in the top six here, and eighth overall, so that we have a shot at the Asian Games next year, but the most important goal is still a gold at the 2015 SEA (South-east Asia) Games here."

To achieve their target, Singapore will have to outdo themselves last weekend in the 12-team tournament.

Of the previous three legs in Malaysia, Thailand and India, Singapore's best finish was eighth in Mumbai last month. They are lying 10th in the 14-country table.

With a victory against Hong Kong - who are second overall and the India Sevens winners - virtually impossible, Ng has set his sights on beating China, with the match scheduled for 1pm last Saturday.

He said: "If we beat China, we will be in the top eight and we'll work from there.

"A top-six finish is definitely possible. We finished eighth in the last leg and we always want to improve by 4 or 5 per cent with each training or competition."

AVENGE DEFEAT

Meanwhile, Hong Kong are aiming to avenge their painful 14-12 defeat by Japan in the cup final last year.

Hong Kong were leading 12-0 but their opponents rallied to clinch the Singapore title.

This year, the two teams have already met in the three cup finals in the series - Japan won in Malaysia and Thailand, while Hong Kong won in India.

Victory will see James Hood and Co level on points with Japan at the top of the series table, but Hong Kong will take the overall title on a greater point difference in matches between the two teams.

Said Hood, 26, Hong Kong's captain: "There is that revenge element there and the two teams have been pretty old rivals.

"We were disappointed with the loss last year and hopefully we can beat them in the final this year."

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