Iran clinch central Asian tournament
By Rob Klacek and Jamie Scott
From Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Iran edged out Uzbekistan 8-6 in the Asian Five Nations Regional tournament taking place in Bishkek on Wednesday to claim the inaugural title, having already beaten the hosts Kyrgyzstan.
The Iranians scored the only try of the match, a barnstorming charge by giant lock Morteza Rasoli from five metres out in the 34th minute.
Uzbekistan’s defence was first class in their opening match of the three-team tournament, their mercurial scrum half Radik Tapilov was particularly outstanding, throwing his body on the line to hold up an almost certain Iranian try.
It was Uzbekistan who drew first blood with a penalty from their centre Timur Jogin in the 30th minute of a match in which their forwards were equal to Iran's, taking five scrums against the head.
Iran enjoyed more possession, but wasted much of it in a succession of errors produced by their backs as offside infringements and failing to release attracted a string of penalties.
Uzbek centre Timur Jogin converted one of these indiscretions to give his side a slender 6-5 lead going into the interval.
Luck, though, was with Iran full back Tashavi Hamid when he landed a penalty which bounced off the cross bar and through the uprights in the 54th minute.
Iran held on to their slender 8-6 lead until the final whistle, which prompted some ecstatic celebrations with several players doing somersaults.
Since joining the Asian Rugby Football Union in November 2005, Iran have now recorded wins against national representative sides from fellow ARFU Member Unions India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
On this week’s performance, it is clear that Iran are certainly a team for the future and, with proper support and direction, could well make it to the Top 5 in the Asia Five Nations in the years to come.