The Asian 5 Nations battle for third place ended with the Philippines falling to South Korea 22-52 in a match played in Southern Plains field in Laguna on Saturday 24 May.
The favored Koreans were hot off the mark with two quick tries in the opening minutes of the game. The hosts held their own by responding with tries from Volcanoes captain, Oliver Saunders and full back Michael Letts. A successful conversion and penalty kick, also by the Philippines’ skipper saw the first half end with Korea leading the Philippines 28 – 15.
The visiting team started the second half much like the first, with two quick tries and successful conversions. The Volcanoes replied with a try from an interception by Matt Saunders, successfully converted by Alexander Aronson which brought the score to 22 – 47 in favor of Korea. Errors by the host team allowed Korea one more try in the last five minutes of the game resulting in a full time score of 22 – 52.
“It was a tough game. Korea played very well and we made it hard for ourselves especially in the 2nd half with too many mistakes and not playing enough territory” said Captain Oliver Saunders after the match. “In saying that, we never gave up and played hard to the final whistle. Always proud of our team’s efforts.”
The result means that the Philippines finishes in its original rank of fourth in the Asian 5 Nations series and will join fifth place Sri Lanka as the top seeds in Division 1 next year, with Kazakhstan and Singapore. The new grouping is a result of the competition’s restructuring the Elite Division from Asia’s top five teams, to just three.
Of the series, Saunders further shares, “It’s been a hard 6 weeks for our squad. Each week we have improved our performance and that's something important that we always focus on doing. We saw a lot of new faces in the team this season, and that showed early on in the campaign, but they all gelled into our squad quickly.”
In closing, Saunders shared his thoughts on what’s next for the Volcanoes. “After maintaining our number four ranking in Asian 15s, hopefully we can do well in the Sevens arena too.” Rugby Sevens is the faster version of the game which will be played in the Asian Games in September.
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