BOCAUE, Bulacan — The Philippine men’s rugby team failed to build on a promising start as it bowed to Sri Lanka, 27-14, to settle for runner-up honors in the Asian Rugby Division 1 Championship on a drizzling Saturday night at the Philippine Stadium.
Alex Aronson lived up to his reputation as a penalty-kick specialist as the Filipino-American fullback scored nine points on three penalties, the first that gave the Volcanoes an early lead.
But it was short-lived as the Filipinos surrendered 13 straight points and the Sri Lankans never looked back.
Rizah Mubarak countered Aronson’s penalty striking with four kicks for a game-high 12 points for Sri Lanka, which claimed the title in the second-tier 15s competition in the continent, while earning an option to face the last-place team in the Elite division for a spot in the top-tier.
The Filipinos, who finished fourth in the five-team Elite class last year that forced them to move down to Division 1 following a tournament reformatting, stays in the second-tier for next season.
Kazakhstan drubbed Singapore, 32-12, to take third place and both squads will join the Philippines in Division 1.
The Volcanoes scored their only try conversion courtesy of Jeff Gregson, who sneaked to the try line following a run from the left side with only two seconds left in the first half.
The Filipinos, who had two tries that were not counted due to technicalities, trimmed the deficit to 21-14, following an Aronson penalty early in the second half, only for the Sri Lankans to retaliate with six successive points that put the outcome beyond doubt.
“I’m disappointed, obviously, but today, we did a lot of positive things,” Volcanoes coach Stu Woodhouse said. “We actually looked the better team in the second half. What’s disappointing was that we didn’t capitalize, finish on mistakes.”