MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Volcanoes gave all they got but still fell short to the fancied South Koreans, 22-52, at the close of the Asian 5 Nations tournament at the Southern Plains field in Calamba, Laguna over the weekend and missed a spot in the A5N Premier Division.
The Koreans imposed their will and strength early then kept pounding the hosts with their fluid game, taking a 28-15 lead at the half en route to victory before a disappointed hometown crowd.
South Korea thus clinched third place in the A5N Premier Division while the Philippines stayed at fourth in the Asian 5 Nations series, relegating the Volcanoes to Division I with Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Singapore for next year’s groupings.
“It was a tough game. Korea played very well and we made it hard for ourselves especially in the second half with too many mistakes and not playing enough territory,” said Volcanoes’ skipper Oliver Saunders. “In saying that, we never gave up and played hard to the final whistle. Always proud of our team’s efforts.”
The Koreans proved hot off the mark as they made two quick tries in the opening minutes of the game but the hosts held their own and countered with tries behind Saunders and full back Michael Letts.
Despite Saunders’ successful conversion and penalty kick, the Philippines still trailed, 15-28, at the break.
The Koreans sustained their form at resumption, coming through with two quick tries and successful conversions. The Volcanoes struck back with an interception by Matt Saunders, successfully converted by Alexander Aronson for a 22-47 count. But the Koreans pounced on the Volcanoes’ miscues and made one more try in the last five minutes to wrap up the win.
“It’s been a hard six 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,” said Oliver Saunders.
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,” he said.
Rugby Sevens is the faster version of the game which will be played in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.