HK heat to help Sunwolves in Stormers clash

Sports | 16 May 2018

Hito-Communications Sunwolves are counting on Hong Kong's hot weather when they face the DHL Stormers on Saturday in the first Super Rugby match in the city.

The Sunwolves head into the SAR for the Mitsubishi Estate-sponsored match in high spirits after beating the Queensland Reds 63-28 in Tokyo last weekend for their first win of the season.

"I can't wait," head coach Jamie Joseph said. "It was hot today and will be hotter in Hong Kong and the big men from South Africa will struggle in the heat."

But despite recording the biggest win in their history, and their first against Australian opposition, Joseph said the Japanese team had plenty to work on before they take on the Stormers. "We conceded nearly 30 points [against Reds] and let in some soft tries," he said. "We need to eradicate the soft moments, the majority of which happen in defense."

Stormers and Sunwolves have met four times with the South Africans picking up big wins in Cape Town - 46-19 in 2016 and 52-15 last year. However, things have been much tighter in the heat of Singapore with the 2016 game finishing in a 17-17 draw and last year's match ending in a 44-31 win for Stormers.

Saturday's game at Mong Kok Stadium marks Joseph's last in charge before he takes a break to concentrate on Japan's preparations for the June Tests against Italy and Georgia.

"With my coaching group responsible for both the Sunwolves and the national team there is a clear advantage," Joseph said of his dual role. "We can use the Super Rugby competition as a step to developing our game and building relationships with the players. You can expect to see the same type of rugby at Test level."

Back-row forward Kazuki Himeno and center Michael Little have been at the heart of the Sunwolves' efforts this season, Hayden Parker had a 36-point haul against the Reds and Hosea Saumaki's hat-trick takes him to seven tries for the season.

Yutaka Nagare and Willie Britz are the other standout players.

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