The Philippine Volcanoes successfully defeated Singapore in a thrilling final 29 to 21 on Saturday night to retain and remain, the Asia Rugby Division 1 champions.
After successfully toppling the number 1 seed Sri Lanka on Wednesday 39 to 22, the Volcanoes had set themselves for the a task for a 2018 rematch with rival SEA nation Singapore after they defeated host nation Chinese Taipei 18 to 13 in the other semi final.
The Volcanoes started the match strongly with team captain Danny Bembo Matthews setting up a perfectly weighted cross field kick for Justin Villazor Coveney for the opening 5 points. Not long after the Volcanoes had back to back points after Ellis Padillo Rudder found open space to dive over for another 5 pointer.
Singapore hit back after a sneaky quick tap scoring a full length of the field try to close the score lines from 12 to 7. The Volcanoes extended the lead after Patrice Ortiz Olivier broke through the defence adding another 5 points to the Philippine tally. A string of penalties kept Singapore in the match, successfully converting three penalty goals. It wasn’t until Ned Plarizan Stephenson extended the Volcanoes lead down the left sideline that provided the extra buffer. The Philippine forward pack remained dominant for most the match and continued to pay off after a short offload from Robert Luceno Fogerty provided Eric Cruz Erickson an additional five extra points.
At 29 to 16, Singapore hit back and provided hope scoring a late try to close the gap, however after an unsuccessful conversion kept the Volcanoes ahead by 8 points with little time left on the clock. This ensured the Philippines the championship title defeating Chinese Taipei, Sri Lanka and Singapore in this years Division 1 championships.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game but we showed a lot of heart to get the win. All credit Singapore, they were excellent, I can’t say enough how good they were”
“Having two back-to-back games like this in quick succession was a big test and we showed immense determination to get over the line”
“It’s an important win for us. Our role as a team is to help with the development of rugby in the Philippines and to see the likes of Kingsley (Ballesteros) come off the bench is a testament to growth and development game. He’s come through the ranks and so it’s so good to see this experience for him” shared Matthews.
\2019 is the first time the Volcanoes has tasted this success since 2012 in this division, a special achievement for the team, especially since there had been a change of format for the competition in the past.
“It’s been really positive over the last two years especially, we have been building this program each year. To get this success is a great achievement. Credit to all the players and coaching & management staff, a tremendous job they deserve this result. A big thanks to our headline partners in First Pacific, MVP Sports Foundation and the PSC for their continued support” shared Jake Letts of Philippine Rugby.
After a successful Men’s campaign, the focus for Philippine Rugby moves directly to the Women’s campaign, as they prepare for their own Asia Rugby Championships in June. The Philippine women’s team will face India, Singapore and China in their Asia Rugby Championships on June 19 and 22 with home ground advantage.
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