The Philippine U20s Rugby Union team made a clean sweep of the Asian u20s Division 2 Championships in Vientiane Laos this week. The Philippines played four game of Rugby Union in five days at the 2009 South East Asian Games stadium and were able to defeat India 38–7, Kazakhstan 22–10, Laos 52–0 and Iran 12–8. The last game against Iran was the Championship final and this game proved to be the hardest victory for a tiring Filipino team. Iran had a physical advantage and the heavens opened on the morning of the final which played into the hands of the Iranian team whose game plan revolved around barging forward play backed up by down field kicking. Throughout the tournament the Philippines had successfully used their backline to cut through their opponent's backlines but the weather conditions were not favorable for running rugby and the Philippines struggled to control the ball in the slippery wet conditions.
After succeeding eight penalties the Iranian team finally missed a tackle in defense on their line and the Philippine Backline were able to capitalize on this mistake to score out wide through Ricky Kucia and the Philippines took a five point lead. The Iranian team had definitely improved since last year's final and grew in confidence as the Philippines gave up successive penalties and the Iranian goal kicker converted a penalty to take the halftime score to 5–3.
The torrential rain conditions had certainly hampered the Philippines backline attack and the Philippines were unlucky not to score on three different occasions during a physical first half. The second half proved to be even tighter and Iran could sense that they had a chance to win the final. The Philippines Captain Ben Saunders and center partner Christian Kennedy started kicking for space and eventually the Iranian team made a mistake in their own territory. Brian Liston who had claimed the man of the match award against Kazakhstan once again showed his authority in the lineouts and led the Philippines forward pack with passion to set up the second try for Ricky Kucia. This try was converted by Andrea Engelbrecht to take the score to 12 – 3.
The last ten minutes of the game was a roller coaster ride with Iran making several attacking raids that eventually paid dividends with a try out wide after the Philippines gave up three consecutive penalties. The score stood at 12 – 8 and the Iranian team rallied to push for yet another try but the Philippines defense held strong and the final siren sounded with a jubilant Philippines team celebrating their back-to-back Asian U20s titles.
The Philippine U20s team has now won seven International Rugby Games in a row and has back-to-back victories at the Asian U20s Championships, not dropping a game in both tournaments. Coach Matt Cullen was extremely happy with his young guns and explained that most the team would be returning next year as 18 and 19 year olds to play in the Division 1 Championships. This victory also means that the Philippine Rugby Union National Men's, Ladies and U20s teams have all won Asian Championships in 2010 and all the Rugby Union playing Asian Nations are aware that the Philippines is becoming a strong rugby nation in Asia.
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