THE Philippine rugby team failed to build on an impressive first-half performance as it bowed to Hong Kong, 20-59, in its inaugural home game in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Top Five Tournament at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Alex Aronson starred for the Volcanoes, scoring on numerous penalty kicks and highlighting his solid play with the try that gave the Filipinos an early 10-7 lead in the first half.
But Hong Kong, one of the tournament’s perennial contenders, eventually caught up with the hosts and turned the game around as the Volcanoes ended up on the wrong side of the blowout despite trying to mount a late comeback led by skipper Michael Letts
“We wanted to start well in the second half, but we just lacked a bit in execution and had a couple of silly mistakes, and when you do that against a good side, it costs you,” said Letts, whose team surrendered three quick tries at the start of the second half.
“But that’s life in top flight rugby. We can’t fault the guys’ efforts. They dug deep and we look to regroup and do what we can against Korea and UAE,” the 28-year-old Filipino-Australian captain added.
The score line is still considered an improvement for the Volcanoes compared to their debut game in A5N where they felt the wrath of defending champion Japan following a 0-121 wipeout
Letts credited the Volcanoes’ improved showing at playing in front of the home crowd.
“At home, it really makes a difference. Playing in front of family and friends, the guys really sort of dug deep and it’s a shame we couldn’t come out with a win.
“We proved that we can match up against world-class teams. We just have to learn how to play two halves of rugby. It’s still a big improvement compared to the Japan game,” former Volcanoes coach and current national team selector Matt Cullen said.