The Philippine Volcanoes erupted at the Asian Men's 7s Championships today by beating the No.1 ranked team, Korea by 19 - 14 in the biggest upset of the tournament.
The Philippines started the day ranked 8th and had to take on the United Arab Emirates in the first game of the Asian Championships. The UAE play in the premier division on the Men's 15s Asian Five Nations Tournament and the Philippines had to secure a win against them to ensure they finished in the top eight teams at the Shanghai 7s. Justin Coveney who is knicknamed "the flying jeepney" took matters into his own hands and demolished the opposition with his powerful runs at the defense and broke through the UAE line to score the opening try of the tournament. The Philippines were to quick and disciplined for the UAE team and Harry Morris and Andrew Wolff both scored tries in the second half to garauntee the Philippines victory.
The Asian Men's 7s tournament invites the top top twelve Asian Countries to do battle over two tournaments and it can be compared to the Asian Games in terms of calibre of teams and the countries that compete. Korea won the Shanghai 7s in 2010 and were ranked as favourites for the 2011 tournament. The Philippines had different ideas and under coach Matt Cullen they planned a new strategy that he believed would match the best teams in Asia. This belief and structure was put to the test against the favoured Korean team and the Philippines started slowly to allow Korea to take a 5 - 0 lead in the first minute of the game. The Philippines then rallied and Oli Saunders was able to swoop on a loose ball from Korea to run the length of the field to score under the posts and even the game.
The Koreans were in complete shock when the Philippine defense continually smashed their opponenets backwards and this passionate defense eventually led to a Korean mistake and once again "the Flying Jeepney" punished the Koreans when he busted through to score the Philippines second try and take a halftime lead of 14 - 5. The Koreans threw everything at the Philippines in the second half, but the Philippine spirited defence stood firm and both Andrew Wolff and Harry Morris pulled off try saving tackles that ripped the insides out of the Korean attack. Justin Coveney was again able to use his size and power to run in the Philippines third try and the Philippines went into the last minute leading 19 - 5. The Koreans fought back and scored in the final seconds of the game, but the whistle blew and the Philippines had beaten the number ranked team to move into the top six playoffs at the 2011 Asian Men's 7s Championships.
The Philippines must beat Kazakhstan on Sunday to secure a top four finish in the first of the two-leg HSBC Men's 7s Championships. Coach Cullen is quietly confident that Kazakhstan can be beaten and if the Philippines can win this game they will compete with the top four Rugby Nations in Asia for a medal position.
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