DUBAI // Hong Kong laid down a marker ahead of their next trip to the UAE by becoming the first winners of the Emirates Cup of Nations in Dubai last night.
Their next journey to these shores will be more significant than for this tournament, which was essentially a development tool for four of rugby's emerging nations.
Hong Kong will face the UAE in what could become a crucial match in the continent's leading competition, the HSBC Asian Five Nations, at the end of April.
On this evidence, the visiting side will start as very strong favourites, after they clinched the Cup of Nations in commanding fashion with a third consecutive win, 37-3 over Brazil.
"It will be a different story" in April, Pale Tauti, the Hong Kong captain, said.
"When we first played against them we knew it was a big thing for them, and they wanted to put on a good show in their home town and in front of their families, so it was good to get a win over them" last Saturday.
"It has been all about building towards the Asian Five Nations, but we came here with the desire to win all three games, so to do that was fantastic."
Brazil were disappointed to finish below Kenya, who started the week nine places below them in the world rankings.
However, the tour to the UAE still represented progress for the South American side, according to the country's first professional rugby coach.
"Every tournament has positive things, and after a tournament like this you know where you stand," said Rodrigo Toto Camardon, their Argentine coach.
"We know what we have to improve on.
"Now is a bad time for us because we just lost to Hong Kong, but we still had a good tournament. It is positive for us."
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