Cambodia beat Brunei 28-0 in Sunday’s HSBC
Asian 5 Nations Division V decider to claim its first HSBC A5N
crown since the inception of the tournament in 2008.
It was also the first consecutive wins for
the Cambodia Kouprey since their victory in the Asian Rugby
Football Union (ARFU) Asian Nations regional championship in 2006.
On Friday (5 July), Cambodia marked its first
test match victory in over three years with a 38-0 win over Brunei
in the opening round of the two-match series.
With one milestone
down, the Koupreys were intent on closing out their first ever
HSBC A5N tournament victory. They achieved the feat in style,
scoring four tries for their second consecutive bonus point win
and maintaining a second-straight clean sheet against Brunei.
Brunei posed a much stiffer challenge then in
the tournament opener on Friday. The two teams engaged in a seesaw
battle throughout the opening half before Cambodia edged out in
front with two tries in a period of ten minutes to take a 14-0
lead into halftime.
The scoring was started by some electric play
from winger Vanara Norn who followed up his own chip kick with a
great chase and charge down of the Brunei clearance to score
beneath the posts in the 14th minute.
Not to be left out, the Cambodian forwards
continued their strong performance in the tournament with another
solid display which led to Cambodia’s second try from a rolling
maul that pinned Brunei back on its own line. Flanker Matthew
Reese took a clever misdirection pass from scrumhalf Luke Wilkie
to dot down for his third try in two matches and to take the
tournament scoring title. Cambodia fly half Alexis Chevalier
converted both of his team’s first half tries.
The second half saw Brunei start to lose the
defensive battle against a Cambodian XV that was starting to hit
its straps. The gates opened in the 47th minute when Cambodia
scrumhalf Wilkie scored his second try of the tournament from a
simple tap and run penalty to start Cambodia’s countdown to
victory. Chevalier’s conversion brought the score to 21-0.
Cambodia’s fourth try came from captain Vireak
Vannak who danced through seven defenders over the course of a 35-metre run to the line. Chevalier, who was a perfect four for four
from his conversion attempts, added the icing on the cake
converting Vireak’s try to put Cambodia clear at 28-0.
Cambodia coach Laurie Karatau, who resumed the
helm of the team for the first time since coaching Cambodia on
their last tournament victory in 2006, said, “After Friday we knew that Brunei would be a wounded lion.
They have a lot of pride and we knew they would come out and hit
us with everything, which they did, so we had to prepare for that.
We stressed to our guys the importance of being able to weather
that challenge and to stick to our game plan and we were
“I think the keys to the win were that obviously
our defence was very good across both games and it showed on the
scoreboard. We also played well together as a team, which is what
he have been trying to do and had a better preparation than in
years past. We trained for two solid months to prepare for this
tournament with a focus on improving our ball skills and our
fitness and physicality and it paid off.”
Coach Karatau is confident that the win
will have a long-term impact on rugby in Cambodia, saying, “I’m
quite confident with the standard we are achieving in Cambodia and
we are starting to build a lot of depth. We need to employ more
resources in coaching and refereeing, which we can do, but we
needed this win. We had 700 young kids as part of the grassroots
programme watching today and what better way to seal the future of
the game than winning in front of them.”
The HSBC ARFU Grassroots Coaching Tour was again
a great success in Phnom Penh, working with over 1,000 youth from
a variety of charities, schools and NGO programmes in Cambodia.
Audiences reached last week in Cambodia include programmes on deaf
and blind rugby as well as working with impoverished children from
around the Phnom Penh environs. The Coaching Tour hosted 700
children to Sunday’s final match and also hosted a U15s curtain
raiser between two local charity groups in the build-up to
Sunday’s match was the final action of the 2013
HSBC Asian Five Nations Series. Thirty games have been played in
eight countries across twelve weeks in this year’s Series.
A5N action will resume again in April 2014 while the HSBC Asian
Sevens Series kicks-off sevens season in Asia at end-August.
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