Hong Kong will play the Cook Islands in the next round of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after beating South Korea 39-5 to win their first-ever Asia Rugby Championship title.
The Asia/Oceania play-off will see Hong Kong travel to the Cook Islands for the first leg on June 30 before the return leg on July 7.
The aggregate winner will progress to November’s four-team repechage tournament, joining already confirmed participants Canada.
The winner of the repechage will qualify for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and will go into Pool B along with world champions New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and a yet-to-be confirmed African team.
On a sweltering day at the Hong Kong Football Club Stadium, the hosts came out of the blocks in impressive fashion and never really looked back with South Korea starved of possession and territory throughout the opening 40 minutes.
Fly-half Matthew Rosslee opened the scoring with an early penalty and then continued his impressive form to score Hong Kong's opening try for an early 10-0 lead.
His half-back partner Liam Slatem then added a second after a fine break from centre Jack Neville.
Yiu Kam Shing scored their third and, despite Toby Fenn’s effort being ruled out, Slatem’s second try after a powerful break from winger Conor Hartley secured the all-important bonus point for Hong Kong with a 31-0 lead at half-time.
The heat took its toll in the second-half with South Korea limiting Hong Kong to just one penalty in the first 10 minutes and scoring their first try of the match minutes later when, after a sustained period of possession and a number of penalties, captain Lee Yong Seung stormed over the line.
They had given themselves to big a mountain to climb, though, and despite looking stronger in the second-half it was left to Jamie Lauder to score Hong Kong’s fifth try with five minutes remaining and seal the victory.
"I am ecstatic - the boys really put it in there," Hong Kong captain James Cunningham, whose side went through the Asia Rugby Championship unbeaten, said.
"We started fast and the Koreans couldn’t keep up with us.
"It is great to move on - we scored some great tries and did exactly what we needed to do.
"It feels unreal - it is a real historic moment today for Hong Kong to win their first Asia Rugby Championship, and to go on to face the Cook Islands now is great.
"We have done something special today and are all looking forward to the next trip."
Malaysia also contested the Asia Rugby Championship, which was a three-team round-robin tournament spread across six weeks.
Japan had won the last 12 editions but did not compete this year as hosts of the World Cup.