After two days of intense competition, the Philippine National Men’s team took home the top prize in the Plate Division at the Thailand leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series. They finished ahead of other Asian counterparts including Singapore, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan and finally defeated Thailand on home soil.
It was an up and down affair for the Volcanoes who came second in their pool behind top-ranked Japan on the first day, only to fall to Korea in the Quarter Finals of the Cup Division on the second day. The loss placed them in the Plate Division, where they faced Kazakhstan in the Semi Finals. After trailing 10-0 at halftime, the Volcanoes rallied to win the match 14-10 which set them up for a Finals battle with host country, Thailand.
The Volcanoes started the game with a try by the Philippines’ top-scorer, Gareth Holgate which Thailand responded to with their own try and conversion. Another try by the Philippines brought the score to 10-7 at half time. The start of the second half saw the Volcanoes down to 6 men as Chris Hitch was sent off with a yellow card. Thailand capitalized on the mismatch with a try and conversion which gave them the lead, however upon his return to the pitch, Hitch made up for his earlier mistake by scoring a breakaway try, giving the lead back to the Philippines 15-14. The Philippines scored another try, this time by Sean Lynch and conversion by Holgate, ending the match 22-14 to take the Plate trophy.
“The Thailand 7s has seen an improvement in the Volcanoes rankings for 2013. Although some of our top players were unavailable due to commitments in Japan, the team that attended Thailand showed that we can win at the Asian Championships.” said Volcanoes coach, Matt Cullen.
“The three outstanding players from this tour all attended the Rugby World Cup in June and showed their quality. Chris Hitch was absolutely dynamic in every game, Gareth Holgate was the top try scorer and Volcanoes newcomer Sean Lynch has erupted onto the Asian 7s scene, impressing everyone with his blockbusting runs” he added.
Despite this victory, the Volcanoes are not resting on their laurels, but rather looking ahead to the next two legs of the series and the Asian Games in 2014.
Co-captain Oliver Saunders shares “Our boys showed a lot of heart and determination to finish the tournament by winning the Plate Division, despite having a few injuries. But the most important game is the Cup Quarter Final on Sunday morning -- we need to win that game to consolidate a top 4 finish in each tournament. If we can do that, then we will have a solid ranking heading into the Asian games next year.”
“Of course we are happy that we won the Plate, but we are not content with our performance. " added co-captain Jake Letts. "We know that we can do better. A full game of Sevens Rugby only goes for 15 minutes, so there's really no time to recover from mistakes. We need to eliminate our errors to be able to get the results that we want in Mumbai and Singapore."
The Thailand Sevens was played on September 21-22 in Bang Sean, Pattaya.
The Volcanoes will travel to Mumbai for the third leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series in October and then to Singapore in November for the tournament’s final stage. A good ranking at the end of the year will put the Volcanoes in good stead for the Asian Games 2014 in Korea.
Philippine Volcanoes Thailand 7s Team:
Alexander Norona Aronson
Christian Desacola Enriquez
Christopher Alamil Everingham
Christopher Baltazar Hitch
Gareth Dela Rosa Holgate
Robert Amalay Jones
Jake Robrigado Letts (C)
Sean Celada Lynch
Harry Dionson Morris
Oliver Abalos Saunders (C)
Rupert Dian Zappia
Head coach: Matthew Cullen
Manager: Christopher Hettel
Physiotherapist: Rico Barin
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