The Philippine National Development Team led by Jon Morales showed that local talent here in the Philippines can match it with their regional neighbors when they narrowly lost to Hong Kong 36 - 30.
In one of the best games of the year, both development teams played in wet conditions and displayed exceptional skills to run in ten tries in an arm wrestle that went down to the last minute.
The Philippines took a halftime lead into the game by 11 - 5 with Nomads flyer Phil Sinclair scoring a classic wingers try to open the game. Hong Kong then gave up two penalties that were converted by Rupert Zappia.
The second half saw the Hong Kong team step up the pace and the game hung in the balance when Tim Bweheni beat three defenders to take an 18 - 17 lead. Hong Kong then scored three unanswered tries to lead 30 - 18 and the game looked to be sewn up for Hong Kong.
Coach Matt Cullen then replaced several of the tiring Filipino players with fresh legs and a number of local players made their debut for the Philippines. The replacements played above themselves to claw back into the game and the Philippines scored two late tries to trail by 36 - 30. Replacement players Jay Coronel and Mark Bulacan both showed they can compete at the International Level and led the comeback with some fierce defense.
The final whistle blew and the Philippines were pushing Hong Kong to limit to defend their slight lead.
Game two in the International Development Series will take place at Southern Plains this Saturday July 27th at 3pm and the Philippine team will be eager to start where they left off in yesterday's game.
All photos on this page by Hannah Reyes
The PRFU would like to thank the following sponsors for supporting the 2013 Philippine National development Team:
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