Kyrgyzstan tops Mongolia in A5N
By Sean Moore
Kyrgyzstan defeated Mongolia 38-21 in the opening match of the HSBC Asian Five Nations Regional tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan will now face the hosts in the decider on Saturday in what should be a tantalising encounter between the two neighbouring countries after their 15-15 draw in last year’s Regional Tournament played in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Also notable is that Wednesday's match was the first full 15-aside international Test match refereed by Gabriel Lee Wing Yi, Asia’s number one ranked female referee and the first ever Asian Rugby Football Union men’s Test match to be refereed by a female match official.
Lee has earned significant plaudits for her refereeing skills after being awarded the Women's Cup final at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai back in March and should progress through the tournament structure of the HSBC Asian Five Nations in 2010.
Lee had her work cut out in her first Test as an entertaining match was disfigured by the awarding of six yellow cards for a variety of infringements. Lee handled the challenge with aplomb, refereeing a match that promises to help raise the standards of the teams in the Regional Tournament, the lowest of the four-tier structure of the HSBC Asian Five Nations (Top 5, Division I, II, III and two Regional Tournaments). There is no promotion or relegation from the Regional Tournaments in 2009.
The match was an entertaining affair in the first half, particularly with there being few kicks and lineouts as the teams resolved to battle it out with ball in hand. Kyrgyzstan centre Alexsandr Zolotukhim opened the scoring with the first of his three tries on the day in the 10th minute after perfectly poaching an errant pass in the Mongolian backline and racing away to touch down.
Mongolia fight back
Mongolia responded 11 minutes later with a well-worked try by fly half Zagsuren Lkhagvatsezen, who finished a long dash quicker than the time it takes to pronounce his name to bring the score to 7-5 after the conversion from captain and full back Austin D. Gansukh.
In the 31st minute, Kyrgyzstan number 8 Sergey Samykin picked up the ball from the base of the scrum and beautifully tied up the Mongolian defensive line before offloading to scrum half Karim Dzhanybekov, who found Vladimir Salimbayev for the wing to finish from 10 metres to edge hs side ahead 10-7.
Shortly before half time Mongolia struck again through replacement prop Erkhbat Dash-ochiz, whose try was again converted by Gansukh to send them in leading 14-10 at the interval.
Scrappy second half
The second half was unfortunately marred by ill discipline on both sides as six yellow cards were served for repeated infringements, dangerous tackling and a minor skirmish. In total four Mongolians and two Kyrgyzstan players cooled their heels in the second half. Kyrgyzstan took advantage of their opportunities and at one point enjoyed a three-man advantage over Mongolia.
The first sin-binning against Mongolia happened in the 46th minute and was immediately penalised on the scoreboard. Number 8 Samykin opened the second half scoring for Kyrgyzstan after some strong close-in work to make it 17-14 after the conversion from reserve back Vladimir Zolotukhin.
Mongolia directed the restart away from the Kyrgyzstan forwards but the ball was caught on the full by centre Zolutukhim, who deftly weaved through the defence to touch down for his second try of the match and the second try in two minutes to extend the lead to 24-14 after the conversion.
Frustration set in and a minute later, Mongolia had their third player binned, this time for alleged stamping. Kyrgyzstan again punished them and once again it was Zolutukhin who edged them further ahead at 31-14 after the conversion.
The final punishment came in the form of a penalty try awarded by Lee for repeated high tackling, after which the score was 38-14. Mongolia clawed back some pride in the 76th minute after scoring through hooker Belegt Dambazajaa following a strong rolling maul. The conversion brought the final score to 38-21.
Uzbekistan will play Kyrgyzstan on Saturday at 18.00 while Mongolia will take on Uzbekistan ‘B’ in the curtain raiser at 16.00 at the Yoshlik Stadium.
For more information on the HSBC Asian Five Nations please visit www.a5nrugby.com.
Tries: Alexsandr Zolotukhim (3), Vladimir Salembayev, Sergey Samykin, Penalty Try
Conversions: Victor Zolotukhin (4)
Tries: Zagdsuren Lkhagvatsezen, Enkhbat Dash-ochiz, Belegt Dambazavjaa
Conversions: Austin D. Gansukh (3)
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