Iran off to a winning start in Kyrgyzstan
By Robert Klacek and Jamie Scott
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Iran will make history over the next week when they play in a triangular regional rugby tournament in the 2008 HSBC Asian 5 Nations in the ancient city of Bishkek.
Tradition has it that the tales and legends of Xanadu and Shangrila have their roots in this small, mountainous, but beautiful landlocked country of “Kyrgyzia” as it was known in ancient time.
Comprising over 100 ethnic groups and sharing borders with Russia, China, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, it was and remains, a haven of peace for those seeking refuge from the endless wars that have, for centuries, raged around its boundaries and continue still today.
The host nation kicked off the third of four regional tournaments taking place involving developing nations in the inaugural Asian Five Nations series when they faced Iran in their capital Bishkek on Sunday.
However there was to be no victory for Kyrgyzstan to savour with their opponents showing power and pace as they ran in five tries to triumph 30-16, the perfect warm up to their second match with Uzbekistan in the same city on Wednesday.
Iran opened the scoring with a sweetly-taken drop goal from full back Tashavi Hamid and then continued to enjoy a glut of possession, the steady platform laid by their forwards allowing the Iranian backs to produce some searing midfield runs.
Iranian supporters enjoy their team's performance against hosts Kyrgyzstan
The Kyrgyzstan defence thought stood firm, snuffing out several attacks and forcing their opponents into errors. Their hard work was rewarded on the half hour when their flying wing Vladimar Chernobay intercepted and raced clear to score.
Player-coach Pavel Lee slotted the conversion and added a penalty for Kyrgyzstan before the Iranians responded with quick tries from Ahmad Etehadpour and Yousefi Lalai. The sides went in 13-13 at half-time though after another penalty from Lee.
Lee edged Kyrgyzstan into the lead with his third penalty of the match, but Iran began to play to their strengths again with their forward packing taking control for the remainder of the match and earning their rewards with number 8 Etehadpour completing his hat-trick.
There was still time in the closing minutes for an Iranian back to get his name on the scoreboard as left wing Sajaj Izadi touched down for his side’s fifth try. They now face Uzbekistan, the same side that Kyrgyzstan will face on Saturday in the tournament’s final match.
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