The Philippine ladies Volcanoes finished off the ARFU Division 2 tournament in style this afternoon beating the hosts, the Lao PDR by 20 points to 12, scoring four tries to two. It was a courageous effort from the girls considering their squad had been reduced from 22 to 19 before the game and shortly after their last game commenced, they lost both Manila Santos and BK delos Santos after they clashed heads in committing themselves to an early tackle (they subsequently required 6 and 3 stitsches respectively - showing that a stitch in time saves nine!).
After a trying two games of rugby the girls started brightly and dominated the smaller Lao girls up front. After some bullocking work by Rozie Morala, the twins Noreen and Reena Novero and Rose dela Cruz, captain Trixie Pacis made valuable yards and was able to offload to Aiumi Ono who reached out to dot down for the first points of the game (and the tournament) for the Philippine side just on ten minutes. This gave the girls confidence and after the first half water break, more phase play led to the girls going close on a number of occasions before Rose dela Cruz was on hand to stretch the lead to 10 - 0. Aye Honoras had come on to replace Manila and BK had bravely returned to the field. The "twins" were getting used to 15s rugby and perhaps the highlight of the first half came when Madille Salinas was engulfed by the Lao defence but was able to slip an impossible pass to AC San Juan who gleefully executed a swan dive into the corner.
Cassie Umali was unable to convert , but the girls went into the half-time break comfortably ahead 15 - 0. Coaches Cullen and Konstanty warned that the Lao girls would come back hard in the second half and the Pinoy girls lost their composure, and after a series of penalties against them in the third quarter, the Laos started to play support rugby and crashed over for two tries, one of which was converted, which narrowed the margin to 15 - 12 at the last break.
Hearts were in mouths in the fourth quarter but after some astute kicking from the skipper, Trixie, the Volcanoes started to play in the right part of the field and after a rampaging run from Rozie Morala, the ball ended with Choc Nut Moore who called in Aiumi, popped to her and she plowed over for her second try of the match and made the game safe.
When the whistle blew the Volcanoes rejoiced and commiserated with their Lao opponents.
The forward coach's award went to Rozie Morala and Aiumi Ono picked up the second award as she was alwaysdangerous and tackled effectively at full back. Luisa Jordan recorded the hit of the day and Madille Salinas won the"assist" award. The girls then celebrated with the Assistant Ambassador andwere photographed with none other than the IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
Overall results of the tournament:
Thailand 38, Lao PDR 0
China 36, Philippines 0.
China 66, Lao PDR 0
Thailand 39, Philippines 0
Philippines 20, Lao PDR 12
China 38, Thailand 0.
So at the end of the day the Philippines finished third running the polished Chinese team closest.
The walking wounded will now make their way back home, sore but happy with their performance. Coaches MattCullen, Grant Rice and Susan Konstanty did a great job marshalling the team and Grace Penon was a caring and efficient manager.
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