FORMER Dunfermline Rugby Club star Gregor McNeish was Hong Kong's hero after his winning penalty took them one match away from the World Cup.

On Saturday, the McKane Park youth product, in the last minute of a dramatic Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) final, kicked over the vital points to hand his team victory over South Korea.

Not only did his boot ensure that Hong Kong won their third successive ARC, it also means that they will go on to face Tonga, on July 23, in the Asia/ Pacific play-off match for next year's World Cup in France, with the winners joining Scotland, reigning champions South Africa, Ireland and Romania in Pool B.

McNeish, a qualified PE teacher who combines working at the independent international school, Renaissance College, with playing for Hong Kong Scottish Rugby Football Club, is eligible to represent the Hong Kong side under residency rules, having moved there in 2016.

The three-times Scotland club XV cap, who was born in Dunfermline, first played for the Dragons three years ago, and has now taken them one step closer to the oval ball's biggest show on earth – and a potential meeting with his idol, Scotland fly half and centre, Finn Russell.

McNeish didn't start the weekend's crucial clash in Incheon, and watched on as his team-mates were reduced to 14 players within a minute of the kick-off after Charles Higson-Smith was red-carded for a high tackle.

Despite that setback, and having another player sent to the sin bin during the opening period, Hong Kong went in at the break 15-0 up but the hosts regrouped and levelled the match, before a penalty allowed them to take an 18-15 lead with 10 minutes to go.

McNeish, who played for Heriot's after leaving Dunfermline, and who has also played in New Zealand, then helped sway the contest back in Hong Kong's favour, sending a perfectly-weighted kick to the corner for Nathan DeThierry to touch down and put them back in front.

South Korea responded, with another penalty edging them back in front, but it was McNeish who had the last word as he held his nerve to convert after home try scorer Choi Seong Dook was penalised for collapsing the lineout.

Watching the nailbiting action unfold back home in West Fife was Gregor's proud dad, Terry, who told Press Sport: "He was a bit disappointed not to be in the starting XV but, once he got on, he certainly had a pretty major impact on the outcome of the game!

"He kicked across the field to the corner for one of the wingers to score a try, and the game was swinging one way, then the other. Korea were on top at that stage but then Hong Kong were awarded a penalty as the seconds ticked out towards the end. It was a pretty horrendous experience for everyone watching!

"It was a fantastic win. He's had hundreds of messages from people all over the world – some that he knew, some that he didn't – congratulating him and his team-mates on their success.

"Although they were 15-0 up at half-time, the game was littered with errors, and Korea seemed to regroup and put Hong Kong under pressure. Gregor came on with 15 minutes to go and turned the game.

"They'd have a good reception on Saturday night with the South Korea team, who he said were nice lads despite the loss.

"He's absolutely delighted. He was cock-a-hoop, that's for sure!"

The match with Tonga, bidding to reach their ninth World Cup, takes place on Australia's Sunshine Coast, and kicks off at 8.30am UK time.