Chinese Taipei Outlast Thailand in Div II Final, Iran Sends India to Division III
[Bangkok, 7 May 2011]: Japan made it 14-straight wins in the HSBC Asian Five Nations as they beat Kazakhstan 61-0 at Bangkok’s National Stadium on Saturday night. In other Week 3 action, Hong Kong made a strong bid to take the runners-up slot for the first time in the tournament’s history with a convincing 48-3 win over Sri Lanka in Colombo.
On a hot and humid night in the Thai capital, John Kirwan’s team overcame a poor first half and some even poorer handling to run in nine tries, with Shaun Webb and Atsushi Tanabe adding four conversions apiece.
Hooker Takeshi Kizu showed his mobility by grabbing four tries and there were further five-pointers for Tanabe, Koji Taira, Alisi Tupuailai, Goshi Tachikawa and Justin Ives as Japan gave the good and vocal crowd - that contained a mix of locals, Japanese ex-pats and ex-pats of other nationalities – a glimpse of what they are capable of.
“That was much better than last week though we still left quite a bit out on the field,” said Kirwan. “There were far too many errors for my liking but the structures were much better,” he added.
The first half had seen Japan get off to a good start with Tanabe crossing in the second half. But as was the case last week in Hong Kong, Japan made a number of errors and could only add three more tries in the first 40 minutes – through Taira, Kizu and Tupuailai – as they went into the break leading 28-0.
An injury to Taira didn’t help, forcing Kirwan to re-arrange his backline. But the backs in particular were guilty of too many mistakes. “We just seemed to try and push the pass, especially in the backs,” said Kirwan.
The second half saw more of the same, with Kazakhstan denied any possession and Japan not making full use of all of the ball that came their way. The Kazakhs didn’t do themselves any favours either, with both Tairzhan Arzuev and Serik Zhanseitov sent to the sin bin for not retreating 10 metres at a penalty. Yet even with a man advantage Japan were still unable to open the floodgates as in last year’s 101-7 rout.
“There were times like I felt we were ready to break out. We just need to show some more patience,” said Kirwan. “But at least we zeroed them so that’s a positive.”
Chinese Taipei wins HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division II
The game was the third of three games held in Bangkok today that also saw the promotion and relegation spots from Division Two determined. Chinese Taipei beat hosts Thailand 22-10 to earn a place in Division One in 2012, while India were relegated following a 30-19 defeat to Iran.
In a game of intense physicality and commitment, Chinese Taipei and Thailand matched one another throughout an enthralling encounter. The game wasn’t decided until the closing minutes when Lee Chun-Wen and Chen Kuo-Lun crossed to break a 10-10 deadlock.
The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for the good and vibrant crowd in attendance. Thailand had an early lead through a penalty by fullback Prasertying Art-Ong, but the visitors were quick to balance things with a penalty of their own by Pan Chih-Hsiang.
With the Chinese Taipei forwards having a slight edge, Cheng Cheng-Hung rumbled over following a well organized driving maul in the 30th minute. Pan added the extras as Chinese Taipei went into the break leading 10-3. But it could have been closer with Prasertying guilty of missing two relatively simple kicks at goal.
Despite the heat and humidity, both sides maintained the intensity in the second half and the local supporters lifted the roof when a try by prop Anusaen Somjate – his third of the tournament – and a conversion by Prasertying pulled the teams level. With time running out though, it was the visitors who had the last laugh as the Thai defence finally wilted.
Earlier, Amin Hosseinzadeh was Iran’s hero, the flyhalf weighing in with two tries, two conversions and two penalties in the victory over India. Hosseinzadeh was ably supported by fullback Ramin Najafi, who also weighed in with a try and who looked dangerous every time he had ball in hand.
“It was important to get back to Iran with a result,” said coach Wayne Marsters, whose side had finished two points short of Chinese Taipei in their opening game.
Hot Hong Kong overcome Sri Lanka
Hong Kong moved a step closer to finishing second in the 2011 HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five tournament for the first time in the tournament’s history after they hammered Sri Lanka 48-3 in steamy Colombo on Saturday.
An emphatic display of running rugby from both forwards and backs earned Hong Kong seven tries leaving the home team floundering in hot and humid conditions. It was Hong Kong who adapted better, and with the forwards, led by impressive No.8 Pale Tauti, dominating loose play, the outcome was never in doubt.
“This is probably not conditions to play a rugby match in. People don’t realize what both teams underwent out there. It was draining humidity, and it was unbelievably hot. Both sides suffered big time but all credit to our guys,” said Hong Kong national coach Dai Rees.
Outstanding flyhalf Keith Robertson led the rush to the tryline, grabbing a brace and was matched by inside centre Lee Jones who scored on either side of the break. Left-winger Rowan Varty and substitute scrum-half Tim Alexander completed the half-a-dozen tries scored by the backs with Tauti being the only forward to cross the line.
But the kudos should go to the hard-working pack whose rolling mauls and driving play set the foundation for Robertson and his backline to dominate. Robertson finished the game with a personal tally of 17, including two conversions and a penalty. Skipper Tom McColl also knocked over three conversions.
Sri Lanka’s solitary points came from a penalty by fullback Saliya Kumara.
“It was an outstanding performance. This is the biggest win since I’ve been involved with Hong Kong, and I think the biggest win for us in the Five Nations. With this win we can now look at finishing second, a place we deserve to be thanks to the hard work of the players,” Rees added.
Hong Kong will have a bye next weekend. They will welcome it having been on the road for the last four weeks, including a pre-tournament tour to the Philippines. The break will also give Hong Kong wingers Rowan Varty and Salom Yiu Kam-shing time to recover from injuries. Varty hurt his left shoulder and Yiu twisted his ankle. Both players were lost in the space of a couple of minutes just before the break.
But Hong Kong made light of their absence as they turned on the style in the second half, running in tries from all corners of the field thanks to good passages of play between backs and forwards.
“It was tough conditions out there today. But all credit to the guys. They stuck it out,” said Hong Kong skipper Tom McColl. “I didn’t expect that we would score seven tries for Sri Lanka is a passionate side and they had a big crowd supporting them. But they suffered in the heat.”
The heat will only intensify for Sri Lanka as they now travel to Almaty for a must-win match on the road against Kazakhstan next Saturday.
Today’s Top 5 results see Japan grab its customary top of the table slot with 12 points from two consecutive wins and two bonus points for scoring four or more tries in each of its matches so far. Hong Kong leaps into second spot on eleven points from its wins in Kazakhstan and today, plus its first bonus point of the season for scoring four or more tries.
Despite the frenzied weekend of rugby, the HSBC Asian 5 Nations again took time out to support the development of the game at the grassroots level – this time in Thailand. Children from the SOS Children’s Village Bangpoo were among those supporting Thailand as a follow-up to a clinic by the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour on Thursday, in which John Kirwan was among the coaches.
Former Scotland boss Frank Hadden, Dean Herewini of the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy and ARFU Development Officer Ismail Kadir led the six-day series of coaching activities in and around Bangkok, which included Tuesday and Friday sessions with Vajiravudh College.
On Saturday morning, Hadden led a clinic for youngsters from the Bangkok Japan and Bangkok Lions rugby clubs, while Sunday marks the last of the IRB-certified referee coaching courses for match officials from across Asia.
HSBC renewed its title sponsorship of the Asian 5 Nations for another three years in January and furthered its investment in rugby in the region by announcing sponsorship of the new Asian Sevens Series later this year. Both competitions will be supported by the HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour, which travels across Asia introducing children to the sport.
For further details, visit: www.asian5nations.com
For more information on:
HSBC Asian 5 Nations/ARFU – Sean Moore, Tournament Operations Manager, Mob: +852 9095-8889, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org