THE Philippine Volcanoes bowed to South Korea, 22-52, at the close of the Asian 5 Nations tournament at the Southern Plains field in Calamba, Laguna on Sunday, missing a spot in the A5N Premier Division.
The Koreans struck early then kept pounding the hosts with their fluid game, taking a 28-15 lead at the half en route to victory before a disappointed hometown crowd.
South Korea thus clinched third place in the A5N Premier Division. The Philippines remained in fourth and was relegated to Division I with Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Singapore for next year’s groupings.
“It was a tough game. Korea played very well and we made it hard for ourselves especially in the second half with too many mistakes and not playing enough territory,” said Volcanoes’ skipper Oliver Saunders.
“In saying that, we never gave up and played hard to the final whistle. Always proud of our team’s efforts.”
The Koreans made two quick tries in the opening minutes, but the hosts held their own and countered with tries behind Saunders and full back Michael Letts.
Despite Saunders’ successful conversion and penalty kick, the Philippines still trailed, 15-28, at the break.
The Koreans sustained their form at resumption, coming through with two quick tries and successful conversions. The Volcanoes struck back with an interception by Matt Saunders, successfully converted by Alexander Aronson for a 22-47 count. But the Koreans pounced on the Volcanoes’ miscues and made one more try in the last five minutes to wrap up the win.
“It’s been a hard six weeks for our squad. Each week we have improved our performance and that's something important that we always focus on doing,” said Oliver Saunders.
“After maintaining our No. 4 ranking in Asian 15s, hopefully we can do well in the Sevens arena too,” he said.
Rugby Sevens is the faster version of the game, which will be played in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.