The final tournament in the 2009 HSBC Asian Five Nations kicked off today with the hosts Philippines winning through to the Division 3 final against Guam, in Manila.
Top seeds the Philippines beat off the challenge of number four seeds Iran and second seeds Guam saw off Indonesia to book their place in Saturday’s final against the hosts.
The winner will be promoted to the HSBC Asian Five Nations Division II tournament to join relegated Division I team Thailand, China and India in 2010.
Guam 23-3 Indonesia
Today’s action opened with a battle between Guam and Indonesia and, from the opening whistle, Guam exerted tremendous pressure on their Indonesian counterparts with fly half Steven Sablan crossing over for the first of a brace of tries in just the second minute.
Guam did not let up and scored again in the 12th minute through captain and flanker Paul Claros. Claros’ try was converted by centre Kapueli Katoa to bring the score to 12-0 and a penalty from Katoa in the 35th minute gave Guam a 15-0 half time lead.
Indonesia started much stronger in the second half and captain and fly half Kirk Arundale slotted a penalty to get the Rhinos on the board, but Sablan punished some indisclipine for an 18-3 lead. A difficult task was made even harder for Indonesia when prop Bobby Orlando was yellow carded in the 42nd minute, effectively ending their charge.
The score remained 18-3 for most of the second half before a second Sablan try from a well-worked chip ahead with two minutes to play brought the final score to 23-3 in Guam’s favour.
Philippines 15-0 Iran
Top seeds Philippines survived a scare from a physical Iranian team to advance to Saturday’s final against Guam. The match offered a distinct rugby contrast of brawn versus brains as the massive Iranian team’s lack of top-flight match experience showed against the small but canny Philippines.
Kicking in the first half was inaccurate from both sides as the Philippine Volcanoes missed four attempts and Iran missed two - a poor 40 minutes which also produced no try-scoring chances. After the interval, the Volcanoes applied genuine pressure and some nice support play led to centre Matt Saunders crossing for the first of two tries on the day.
The score remained at 5-0 until the 73rd minute, before the Philippine fitness and match experience provided a crucial edge and lock forward Rafael Zappia slotted his first penalty attempt in the 73rd minute, followed by an easy try in the 78th minute through Saunders. Zappia converted to make the final score 15-0 and send the Philippines into Saturday’s final at 15.00.
The final also represents a tantalizing re-match for the Philippines and Guam, the two finalists in last year’s Guam Regional Tournament won by the Philippines 20-8.
These two teams are familiar foes and regularly contest the Magellan Cup, named after the Spanish explorer who first touched ground in the Pacific Ocean in Guam before meeting an untimely end on the Philippine island of Cebu where he was killed by warrior chieftain Lapu Lapu.
Indonesia and Iran will kick off at 13.00 for third place and both matches will be played at the Nomads Sporting Club in Manila, home of the renowned Manila 10s.
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