Hong Kong down Cook Islands on road to Rugby World Cup

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Hong Kong won the first leg of their home and away series against the Cook Islands 26-3 in Rarotonga Saturday to move a step closer to a berth in next year’s World Cup in Japan.

The newly crowned Asia Rugby Championship winners outscored the Cook Islands four tries to nil and led 18-3 at half-time.

Thomas Lamboley, Liam Slatem, Conor Hartley and Max Woodward all touched down for the visitors while Matthew Rosslee landed two penalties. 

Matthew Mullany scored the Cook Islands’ only points with a penalty early in the game. 

While the Asia tournament had sharpened Hong Kong, the Cook Islands were playing their first international in 10 months since they lost to Tahiti in the 2017 Oceania Rugby Cup. 

That result was later overturned after Tahiti were found to have fielded ineligible players. 

The return leg is in Hong Kong next Saturday with the winner on aggregate joining Canada, a yet-to-be-determined Africa side and the loser of the Samoa-Germany play-off in a repechage tournament to fill the 20th and final spot at the World Cup. – Agence France-Presse

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