One of Asia’s longest running rugby rivalries
will resume on Saturday, 8 June, (kick-off at 18:00) as Singapore
and Malaysia advanced from their semi final matches of the HSBC
Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Division II competition on Wednesday at
the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore, smarting from their demotion last
year to Division II, beat India 67-8 to book its place in
Saturday’s final, while Malaysia cruised past Iran 48-10 in front
of a passionate local crowd of nearly 1,000 spectators.
Playing to its traditional strength in the forward pack, three
Singapore forwards scored braces in the Rugby Lions’ victory: No 8
Peter McFeely, who opened the scoring in the 15th minute; flanker
Matthew Roberts, who scored twice in the first half; and lock
Murray Wyllie. Openside flanker Simon Etheridge, suiting up in
replacement of team captain Daniel Marc Chow who was ill, added a
try to see the pack account for seven of Singapore’s 11 tries on
Singapore jumped out to an early lead through
tries to McFeely and Roberts (2). Wing Bryan Ng added a nice solo
effort with a 60-metre dash to represent the backline in the first
half. Two conversions from scrumhalf Suhaimi Imran pushed Singapore into the lead 24-5 at the break. India prop Suresh Sajwan got his team on the board in the 27thminute with an unconverted try.
After the resumption of play, Singapore
winger Nicholas Groen added to India’s woes with a try in the
45th minute before India replied with a penalty through scrumhalf Sujai Lama in the 50th minute. Lama’s penalty accounted for
India’s last points of the afternoon as it was all one-way traffic
for Singapore from there on out, especially with India losing two
players to the sin bin in the second half.
his second try in the 52nd minute, with Imran’s conversion pushed
Singapore further ahead at 36-8. Making their man-advantage count,
Singapore crossed over for five more tries in the second half
through Zaki Muhammad, Etheredge, Wyllie (2) and centre Andrew
Bourke, to complete the rout at 67-8.
Match captain and
hooker Gaspar Tan summed up his team’s effort nicely saying, “It
was a strong display from the forwards. We started off really slow
and gave up too many penalties but in the second half we made
adjustments. We were more disciplined and just kept moving forward
with the ball and the tries flowed from there.”
disappointed India captain Nasser Hussain said, “We were up
against a team that was recently relegated from Division I and it
showed. There was a considerable difference between the two sides
and they analysed our game well and took our strengths away. But
despite the score line there were a few positives today and
hopefully we can build on those for Iran on Friday.”
Malaysia also enjoyed a relatively uncomplicated passage to the
Division I promotion decider on Saturday with a 48-10 win over a
physical Iran XV that was every bit the hosts’ match in terms of
physicality and commitment but lacked composure at times.
Malaysian fullback Mohd Fairuz ab Rahman paced his side to an
early 11-0 lead after converting his first penalty chance in the
second minute, followed by a try in the 3rd minute and another
penalty in the 8th minute.
Ab Rahman’s solo effort was
rounded out by No 8 Timoci Nacokula to push Malaysia ahead 18-0 at
the 15-minute marker.
Iran’s first half points came
through captain and No 8 Iraj Rostami who finished a nice offload
from hard charging lock Morteza Rasouli at Malaysia’s 5-metre line
to send his side into the sheds with some momentum at 18-5.
In the second half, Rasouli added his own try early in the
opening minutes in a fitting reward for a tireless defensive
effort on the day, bringing Iran within touching distance at
18-10. But the visitors’ lack of match experience began to tell
with unforced errors creeping into the game and poor kicking from
hand conceding significant possession to the Malaysians.
Malaysia made the most of their opportunities in the second half
scoring four more tries through centre Atunaisa Takuba, reserve
back Zulkiflee Azmi, scrumhalf Mohd. Nazeer Mohd. Nesharah and Wan
Izzudin Ismail. Ab Rahman added another conversion, before handing
off the kicking duties to reserve fullback Nazreen Fitri Nasruddin
whose two penalties and a conversion brought the final score to
Malaysia 48, Iran 10.
Fullback ab Rahman, who collected 15
points on the day with a try, two penalties and two conversions
was pleased with the day’s work, saying, “We’re really happy with
the performance. Iran is a big, heavy team and our strategy was to
get the ball wide and avoid contact and we were successful.”
Iran coach Pedram Baniameriyan credited the opposition saying,
“Malaysia were very good today but I am proud of my boys. We
played good rugby today but we are lacking the experience at test
match level that we need and it shows.”
India and Iran
will now face off in the Division II 3rd/4th place match to decide
who is relegated to Division III in 2014. The relegation match
will be played on Friday, 7 June at Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kuala
Singapore and Malaysia will meet in the Division
II final on Saturday at 18:00 at Petaling Jaya.
v Malaysia is like the French playing the English it is that kind
of rivalry,” said Singapore coach Inoke Afeaki, adding that, “I
like the Malaysian style of rugby. It is very fluid and it brings
Singapore rugby out of its comfort zone, which is what we need. I
think it will help us to play a more balanced kind of rugby, which
is what we need if we want to go back up to the next level.”
Singapore captain Daniel Marc Chow added, “Playing Malaysia is
always big for us and for them I’m sure. We really want to get the
better of each other. It doesn’t matter what we are playing for
when we are playing Malaysia. It’s more than just promotion on the
line there is a lot of pride at stake which is going to really
help the boys get motivated for Saturday.”
Division III semi-finals will be held today as part of a
festival of rugby in Kuala Lumpur. Top seeds China will face off
against newly promoted Qatar in the second semi final at 17:00,
while second seeds Guam face Indonesia in the first semi-final at
15:00. All games are held at the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kuala
Lumpur. Admission is free.
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