The Philippine Volcanoes snatched a win from Sri Lanka’s clutches at the last second of play at the Asian 5 Nations tournament in Colombo.
The host country scored first with a penalty kick early in the first half which was answered by the Volcanoes with a try from perennial scorer, Matt Saunders. The rest of the first half was a seesaw battle which ended with the Philippines leading 19 – 17, with the Volcanoes’ tries coming from David Feeney, Steve Howorth and two conversions by Captain Oliver Saunders.
A try from an unlucky bounce and a converted penalty kick gave Sri Lanka the lead in the second half with the Volcanoes failing to capitalize on one of the Tuskers getting sent off the field with a yellow card. With the score at 25 – 19 in favor of Sri Lanka in the 86th minute (overtime due to time lost for injuries) Volcanoes scrum-half Jake Letts drove the ball over the Tuskers forward pack for a try, bringing the score to 25 – 24. Fly half Alex Aronson was tasked to convert the try for an additional 2 points. Aronson’s kick was unsuccessful, however the referee declared that the Tuskers charged towards the Philippine kicker too early and ordered a re-kick. Aronson’s second attempt from 23 meters was successful, giving the Philippines a 26-25 victory over Sri Lanka.
"It was a brutal encounter and a great win away from home in front of a vocal home ground" said Head Coach Stu Woodhouse after the match. "It was Sri Lanka's last game and we showed some good character to overcome the odds late in the game to come away with our first win."
The Volcanoes’ most-capped player Jake Letts had this to say about his heroic try “It just happened so quickly. I saw a little gap and was able to dart through. The next thing I remember, I was forcing myself to score the try. I was worried that I would lose the ball. Luckily, I didn’t.”
“For the second kick I just thought that this was the moment that you dream of when you play sports” shared Alex Aronson, “I tried to calm myself down, go through my routine and just kick it. I’m just glad it was successful. I don’t know what I would have done if I let my teammates down; they all played so hard.”
“Our boys showed a lot of resilience. I’m very proud of our team for never giving up. The culture & brotherhood that the Volcanoes have is something special to be a part of. It’s great to finally give our supporters a win.” said Captain Oliver Saunders.
The victory gives the Philippines its first win in the A5N series, ensuring that the Volcanoes don’t finish at the bottom of the Elite Division in 2014.
The Volcanoes face South Korea on home soil in their final game of the series on Saturday, May 24 at Southern Plains Field in Laguna.
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