Saturday, May 4, 2013

Philippines Volcanoes mark first home HSBC A5N Top 5 match against Hong Kong

Hong Kong v Philippines in Manilla (WCQ Asia; Asia Five Nations)

Venue: Rizal Memorial Stadium

Referee: Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan)


[Manila, Philippines, May 3, 2013]:  A proud record of never having lost a home game in the HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) will be under severe examination at the Rizal Stadium on Saturday when the Philippines takes on Hong Kong in the Top Five competition.

The Philippines Rugby Football Union estimates a crowd of around 4,000 to turn up for the first home outing in the Top Five. The vocal crowd support, along with the expected hot and humid conditions with temperatures likely to reach 35 degrees centigrade, will prove a tricky combination for favourites Hong Kong to overcome.

“Hong Kong will always be a challenge but we are hoping the conditions at home will help us in our first home game at the Premier level,” said Matt Cullen, former PRFU coach and current chairman of selectors.

“The home support will be a huge advantage to the boys. We have never lost a game in the A5N playing at home and I hope that record will be extended. But it will be tough,” Cullen admitted.

The Philippines promoted from Division One last year were given a rude baptism by Japan a fortnight ago in Fukuoka being routed by a record 121-0 including 18 tries.

They have since re-grouped and have been in camp for the last two weeks preparing for the Hong Kong game, the second of four matches this season in the elite competition, which also includes South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

“It was a huge learning curve for us coming up against Japan but I know the guys have bounced back and are looking forward to this game. It will be very competitive for we know Hong Kong are strong, but this is the level of competition you can expect at the top end,” Cullen said.

The Philippines will field a largely unchanged side to that which ran out against Japan with fullback Michael Letts leading the team which comprises primarily Filipino heritage players, (those players of mixed Filipino-international parentage), six of whom ply their trade in Japan’s professional Top League.

The Philippines will miss their Australian coach Jarred Hodges who has had to rush back home due to a serious illness in the family with assistant coach Stuart Woodhouse taking over the reins for this weekend’s test match.

“The plan is to try and keep up our intensity for more than the first 20 minutes we showed in the Japan game,” said Cullen. “If we can keep this intensity for the entire first half, then we can re-assess at the break and go out and attack Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong will be back at full-strength with the return of loosehead props Ian Ridgway and Jack Bennett, both of whom have yet to figure in this season’s campaign.

Head coach Leigh Jones has also had to make a couple of enforced changes in the backline with Mike Glancy replacing Niall Rowark at flyhalf while centre Stewart Megaw is out for the rest of the competition with a broken hand picked up in last week’s 38-0 defeat to Japan.

Megaw is replaced by Ally Maclay who will partner David Whiteford in midfield. Maclay’s position on the wing will be taken up by Sebastien Alfonsi.

Jones is not underestimating the threat posed by the Philippines and has warned his team to expect a stern test. Hong Kong has a 1-1 record so far in the competition having beaten UAE 53-7 in their opener a fortnight ago.

“The Philippines were in Japan’s faces for the first 20 to 25 minutes and we can expect a torrid time. We will have to keep our shape and composure in the opening minutes if we are to come out winners,” Jones said.

Cullen added: “Our aim is to stay up this year so that we can have a crack at World Cup qualifying next year. To do this we have to win at least one game. We ran South Korea close the last time we played them (in 2011) losing by a couple of tries, the last of which came at the death in that game, and we feel we can beat UAE who we play last at home on May 18. But our hope is that we won’t have to enter that game in a must-win position.”

GWC Rugby Rankings
Asia Table-Hong Kong 3rd, Philippines 8th

IRB Ranking Points
Hong Kong 55.65, Philippines 44.35

Prediction: Hong Kong by 35 points



Hong Kong

15   Thomas McCill (Capt.) Kowloon
14   John Rees Kowloon
13   Alastair Maclay  Hong Kong Football Club
12   David Whiteford  Hong Kong Scottish
11   Sebastien Alfonsi  DEA Tigers
10   Michael Glancy  Hong Kong Scottish
9   Peter McKee  Hong Kong Football Club
8   Pale Tauti  DEA Tigers
7   Matthew Lamming Hong Kong Cricket Club
6   Alexander Baddeley  Valley
5   Charles French  Hong Kong Cricket Club
4   William Hunt  Hong Kong Football Club
3   James Cooper  DEA Tigers
2   Thomas Bolland  Hong Kong Football Club
1   Ian Ridgeway  
16   Alexander Harris  Kowloon
17   Jack Bennett  
18   Stephen Nolan  Hong Kong Football Club
19   Daniel Watson  Hong Kong Football Club
20   Matthew Stockdale  Kowloon
21   Kirk Munro  
22   Niall Rowark  Valley
23   Charles Cheung  DEA Tigers
    HEAD COACH: Leigh Jones



15   Michael Letts (Capt.) Kamaishi, Japan 
14   Joseph Matthews  Queanbeyan RFC, Australia
13   Gareth Holgate  Kyudun, Japan
12   Justin Coveney  Western Red Sharks, Japan
11   Matthew Saunders  NTT, Japan
10   Alexander Aronson  California Golden Bears RFC, USA
9   James Price  Kyudun, Japan
8   Christopher Hitch  Warnervale RFC, Australia
7   Darran Seeto  Gordon Highlanders RFC, Austr.
6   Terrence Carroll  Western Bulldogs RLFC, Austr.
5   David Feeney  Manilla Nomads
4   Stephen Howorth  St Austell RFC, England
3   Matthew Bellenie  Brighton RFC, England
2   Graeme Hagan  Pattaya Panthers
1   Austin Dacanay  Tampa Crewe RFC, USA
16   David Robinson-Polkey  Mt Wellington RFC, New Zealand
17   Michael Duhig  Brothers RFC, Australia
18   Joshua Bautista  Santa Rosa, USA
19   Daniel Rodriguez  
20   Christopher Hettell  
21   Jake Letts  Kamaishi, Japan
22   Benjamin Saunders West Tigers RLFC, Australia
23   Jefferey Gregson  Coventry RFC, England
    HEAD COACH Stuart Woodhouse (interim)

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