Red-hot Chile test - Coach rings changes as HK try to make amendsSports | 14 Nov 2017
Coach Leigh Jones has rang the changes for tonight's clash against Chile as Hong Kong look to bounce back from an opening-day defeat in the Regal Hotels Cup of Nations at King's Park.
Seeking an improvement in performance following a narrow 16-13 loss to Russia last Friday, Jones likes his side's chances against Chile, who ran out 23-3 winners over Kenya.
"I expected to beat Russia but we came unstuck, and again I am expecting to beat Chile," Jones said.
"We let ourselves down against Russia due to an inconsistent set-piece and poor discipline. We have talked about that and how to improve our set-piece against Chile, and the rest of our game will improve as a consequence."
Jones has made several changes to the squad, primarily in the backline, with Jack Neville starting at fly-half ahead of Matt Rosslee. Neville will partner with the new center pairing of Sam Purvis and Tyler Spitz, while Ali Maclay and Marcus Ramage come into the squad on the wings. Utility back Jamie Hood will move to full-back with scrum-half Liam Slatem taking over at the pivot.
Prop Jack Parfitt and flanker Matt Lamming are the two newcomers to the match-day squad. Parfitt joins Ben Higgins at prop, while Ben Roberts will take over at hooker and captain the side.
James Cunningham earns a second start at lock with Kyle Sullivan moving to the starting lineup ahead of Adrian Griffiths. The back row sees Kane Boucaut and Lamming on at flanker with Thomas Lamboley at No 8.
Dayne Jans and props Dan Barlow and Dylan Rogers join Griffiths are on the bench alongside Michael Coverdale, Cado Lee Ka-to, Rosslee and Conor Hartley after starting against Russia.
The changes are consistent with Jones' approach of using the Cup of Nations as a preparation for Hong Kong's attempt to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. "We have got to keep developing depth. Competition [for places] has got to be the key as we move forward," he said.
Against Chile, the forwards will be asked to set the tone early. "Chile are a big, heavy team and rely largely on their forwards ... so we are going to have to match them in the forwards and in their physical approach, and also to show a bit of class and play the game at a quicker tempo."