The Philippine National u18s team have just completed their local tour of the Philippines. During the last two weeks the National u18s team, that included Filipino players from Australia and England trained and played here in Manila. The team was supposed to travel to Taiwan to compete in the Asian u18s Championships but unfortunately this tournament was cancelled at the last minute due to other national teams' late withdrawals.
The PRFU decided to arrange a local tour which turned out to be a great way to still bring the young guns together, train and play in a competitive games and start to build the foundations of the next generation of Volcanoes Men's teams. It was also fantastic to see some ex National team players give up their time and help coach and play with the National u18s team, these included Evans Atandi (Brent International School and Volcanoes), Rupert Zappia (Australia and Volcanoes) and Fergus Mitra (ISM and National u20s player).
The team played three games on the local tour and came together on Saturday November 3rd at Nomads to train and then play the number 1 ranked PRFU men's team. It was a difficult task for the young guns but with youth and energy on their side, they went into the game with only one hour to meet and prepare themselves. To their credit the National u18s took the game to the Nomads and it was an even battle for the first 20 minutes with the Nomads holding a narrow lead of 7 - 0.
The Nomads experience and teamwork then started to take its toll and the bigger men controlled possession to eventually shut out the u18s by 40 - 7. This was definitely a hard introduction for the National u18s team.
Forwards: Darren Tuck
Backs: Vinnie Young
These players were named team Captains and the National u18s team began a two-week training program with the mission of winning a game against a men's team here in Manila. These players were well supported in the opening game by local players by Tim Churchill (BSM) and Jake Batuhan (BSM) and Australian-Filipino Rene Quijon.
The first weeks training took place at Philsports Stadium and the u18s team were able to train with one of the stronger local clubs, the Globe Immortals. Under new coach, John Wood, the Globe team have revitalized their numbers and it was great to see the new recruits go up against the u18s and both teams were able to practice their set plays in a competitive environment. The u18s also ran with the rugby 101 participants and it was great to the numbers come out and support the u18s at the Rugby 101 session.
The second game for the u18s was against the Alabang Eagles and this took place at Nomads on Sat Nov 10th. The Eagles have a number of young players from Papua New Guinea who have a background in Rugby League and this was always going to be a tough game for the National u18s. The game was played in a open manner with both teams trying to play attacking rugby, in the end it was the eagles who held onto the ball and u18s found it difficult to contain National Men's 7s player Tim Bheweni who continually led the Eagles attacking raids. The u18s displayed better control of possession than the first game against Nomads and this eventually led to tries by Darren Tuck who scooted from the base of a ruck to score under the posts and then local player Chester Anin from the University of Makati scored a runaway try in his debut for the Philippines. The final score saw the Eagles win the game by 29 - 14 and the u18s were starting to show signs that a victory was in their grasp.
The teams met on Wednesday night at Nomads and the u18s were ready and waiting at 5pm. This allowed them time to watch and analyse the game against the Eagles and Coach Matt Cullen then took a one hour intensive training run that focused on the areas that needed improvement. The Nomads did not have their full complement of A team players and the u18s smelled their first victory coming.
The game was still 0 - 0 at the 10 minute mark with Nomads dominating territory before inside center Vinnie Young pounced on a Nomads mistake and ran 80 meters to score under the posts and put the u18s in the lead for the first time on tour. Veteran Evans Atandi had a smashing game in the forwards and continually led the young guns into battle. He was rewarded with the u18s second try of the game and the u18s went into the halftime break with a 14 - 7 lead.
Nomads are renowned for their second half shut outs and the u18s were under fire to lift their game to stop the Nomads forwards from taking control of the game. The u18s reserves were called upon to step up during the second half and Carlo Albert (BSM), Hyung Jun Kim (ISM) Migual Montilla (Brent) all had to take the field as the u18s clung to a 17 - 12 lead. It was during the final 10 minutes of the game that the u18s showed that they could compete with their older counterparts and every player on the field had to tackle the rampaging Nomads who were determined to score and win the game. The u18s front must commended for holding up the Nomads pack and did lose a scrum in the second half of the game, this proved to be the turning point and the u18s were able to score a last second try through the legend Evans Maina to run out winners by 22 - 12.
This was the u18s first tour victory and the team celebrated at Nomads with a team dinner. Coach Matt was very pleased with the whole tour and has identified several young players that showed potential for future careers as Volcanoes player. "The best thing about this local tour is that everyone knows each other and we worked hard for a solo victory over three games. The u18s never gave up and attended all training sessions and this proved to be the difference in the end. What is especially exciting is that all the u18s players will be eligible for the National u19s team in 2013."
Tour awards were presented at the team dinner and the team also thanked the tour Sponsors GXD for supplying the team kit.
Best Forward - Darren Tuck (Gold Coast Australia)
Best Back - Vinnie Young (Sussex England)
Most Improved - Merick Magdaraog (Manila)
Philippines U18s Squad
Jose Rey S. Antonio
Aldrin Harvey Mercado
Darren Tuck (C)
Vince Young (C)
Ralph Derrick De leon
Hyung Jun Kim
Rene Jose Quijon
Ramirez Lito Cruz
Timothy Mark Smith
John Patrick F. Datiles
Joshua Raphael Ordonez
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