DUBAI // Leigh Jones, Hong Kong's senior coach, thinks his side will be an even greater force thanks to their experiences at this Cup of Nations, even though they gave up their title to Belgium.
The Belgians won last night's finale 24-12 to complete a cleansweep of victories on their first trip to Dubai. However, the fact Hong Kong pushed a side who are on the cusp of breaking into the world's top 20 is an indicator of the progress Asia's No 2 side are making.
"The guys showed huge intestinal fortitude, but we were beaten by a better team, quite simply," Jones said. "[Belgium] were too big, too heavy and too skillful. I think we did well to keep the scoreline to what it was.
"We will only grow from it, the whole point in coming to competitions like this is so we face opposition like that. We will learn lessons and move forward from it."
While Hong Kong will now turn their attention in the XVs format to the Asian Five Nations at the end of this season, Belgium are looking to compete with some of Europe's established sides.
"It is good to come to the Emirates, play well in three matches and everyone wanted to win, so it is very good for us," said Andrew Neill, the Belgium captain.
"We knew it would be very hot. In Belgium it is winter and we are not used to this weather, but we have enjoyed this.
"We have good team spirit now and it was good to win the tournament. It feels great."
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