The Philippine National Development team came out firing against the Hong Kong Tertiary Select team in the Final of the Development Series. The game was played at the RECS Sports Facility in St. Cruz Laguna and Governor Ejercito was proud to host the International Game at the RECS Complex Field.
After suffering a 48 – 7 points loss on Wednesday the Philippines showed that they can take on their top- level opponents from Hong Kong and came out in the second game with a renewed confidence and passion to play the game in the face of their opponents. The Philippines had implemented a drift style defense in Wednesday‘s game and this allowed the evasive Hong Kong backline the time to move the ball wide and attack at will. The Philippines changed the defensive line to a man-on-man pattern and Jon Morales, Andrew Wolff, Tim Bwehemi and Eric Tai all looked more comfortable playing in the face of the opposition.
Hong Kong looked like they would repeat their game from Wednesday and opened the scoring with a wide attacking play that ended with their winger scoring in the corner to take a 5 – 0 lead. To the Philippines credit they then stepped up their defense and held Hong Kong scoreless for the remainder of the first half. At the 25th minute mark it was Eric Tai who exploded into the game tackling his opposition winger and was able to turn the ball over. Andrew Wolff swooped onto the loose ball and broke through the first line of defense to run 80 m to score the opening points for the Philippines. The crowd from Sta. Cruz were ecstatic and the cheering certainly helped to lift the spirits of the Philippine team.
For the last 10 minutes of the first half, Hong Kong then threatened the Philippines line and somehow the Philippines made several try saving tackles to hold out the Hong Kong attack and the first half finished at 5 all.
The second half was as intense as the first and Philippines had turned around the game from Wednesday’s loss to seeing a victory in their sights. Hong Kong still had a distinct advantage in the set plays, winning all their own scrums and lineouts and this is where the Philippines struggled in the second half. Once again the Philippines were forced to defend in their own half and this eventually led to the Hong Kong’s second try when the Philippines were not able to control a high midfield kick and Hong Kong threw the ball to find one of their props rampaging out wide and he ran 20m to give the Hong Kong the vital lead in the 30th minute of the second half.
The Philippines had their chances late in the game and were able to attack the Hong Kong line without success, this pressure eventually led to Hong Kong giving up a penalty and this was converted by Danny Williams to enter the last 5 minutes of the game at 10 – 8. The game hung in the balance and the Philippines had proved that they were equal of their development counterparts. With two minutes left on the clock Hong Kong were able to break away from some tired defense and scored out wide to win the game and the Asian Development Series by 15 – 8.
The Philippine Development team only started in January 2011 and have now proven to themselves and Hong Kong that they can play Rugby Union at the International Level and have made a pact to improve in 2012. Kit Guerra was awarded the Philippines Most Valuable player award and was well supported by Jaime Zobel, John Oduilo and Andrew Wolff.
The Philippine National Development are due to play against the Sabah Rugby Union this October in the second game of the home and away series. Stay tuned for the date and venue.
The Philippine and Hong Kong Rugby Football Unions are leading the way with Rugby development programs and tours in Asia. This year, the Philippines have hosted both the Hong Kong National Men’s 15s Asian 5 Nations Premier team the Hong Kong Tertiary Select. The National Men’s team played against the Philippine Volcanoes in April, while the Tertiary Select team is here to play the Philippine Development team in a two-game series. The Philippines will also send their inaugural Under14 and Under16 National Teams to play Hong Kong in October. The focus for both Unions with these tours is to develop the sport of Rugby Union in Asia. This also certainly helps a developing Rugby nation like the Philippines with all aspects of promoting Rugby as a sport for Filipinos in the Philippines.
The Hong Kong Tertiary Select team is made up of younger development players based in Hong Kong who are vying to be selected in the Hong Kong men’s team -- ranked 2nd in Asia, while the Philippine National Development team are all locally based players who are also striving to win a position in the Philippine National Men’s Team.
The first game between the 2 teams was played on August 17 at Rizal National Stadium -- the first Rugby Union game to be played at the newly renovated venue. The game started at a hectic pace and both teams were evenly matched in the first quarter with Hong Kong taking a lead of 14 – 0. The Philippines were unlucky not to score off a wide backline move when Jaime Zobel received a well-timed pass from Andrew Wolf and was able to scoot down the sideline only to be tackled with the try line in sight. The Hong Kong team’s fitness and precision started to show in the second quarter and this lead to three quick tries before the halftime break. The Hong Kong scrum started to dominate the front row late in the second half and successfully wheeled three scrums to turn over the feed; this consequently led to a glut of possession which allowed the sharp Hong Kong backline the time and space to score out wide.
The Philippines were able to steady the ship and regain their breath at halftime. Unfortunately the Philippines received two yellow cards in the second half which left the team with only 14 players for 20 minutes. The Philippines showed good determination in the third quarter and controlled possession to allow Tim Bweheni to break through the defense and score under the post in the 37th minute of the game. Hong Kong then finished strongly and ran in three tries in the last 20 minutes of the game and their superior fitness was the overriding factor at the end of both halves. With this match being the highest level that these local players had ever played at, it was obvious that match fitness is a necessary requirement to win international games at this level. The final score was 48 – 7 to Hong Kong.
The second game of the Philippine/Hong Kong Asian Development Series will be played at the RECS Sports Complex in St. Cruz Laguna this Saturday August 20 and the Philippines will definitely be out for revenge and now understand what it takes to play an international team like Hong Kong.
Thanks go out to Phil Gittus, Rob Hawtree and Harry Wang for officiating the game while Ross Schirmer and Precious Regner kept the match statistics.
Round 1 of the Globe PRFU 7s League kicks off at PhilSports Stadium on Saturday, August 13. Seeing action in the Cup Division are the Alabang Eagles, Alabang Ibons, Hapons, Manila Nomads and Nomads Carabaos. The Plate Division features the Globe Immortals and two newly-formed teams -- Raging Bison and Teambog Vipers. There will also be a Women's Division with Team GL and MAAP Ladies.
The two new teams are a direct result of the PRFU's free Rugby 101 Sessions held every Monday and Wednesday at PhilSports Stadium. Heightened interest in Rugby Union over the past couple of months has produced a record number of Rugby 101 attendees every week. While admittedly still very green, the members of Raging Ox and Teambog are making up for it with their enthusiasm and dedication to learn the skills needed for Rugby.
The PRFU invites everyone to watch the games and learn more about the sport of Rugby Union.
Globe PRFU 7s Season Schedule:
Round 1: Aug 13, 1:00pm - 6:00pm, PhilSports Stadium, Meralco Ave. Pasig City
Round 2: Sep 10, 1:00pm - 6:00pm, PhilSports Stadium, Meralco Ave. Pasig City
Round 3: Sep 17, 1:00pm - 6:00pm, PhilSports Stadium, Meralco Ave. Pasig City
Round 4: Sep 24, 1:00pm - 6:00pm, Cuenca Field, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa
Finals : Oct 8, 1:00pm - 6:00pm, Nomad Sports Club, Merville, Paranaque City
The PRFU have selected a local development team to compete against the Hong Kong Tertiary Squad that will be visiting the country later this month.
The PRFU Development Team is composed of Filipino heritage and foreign players that see action in the local PRFU leagues. This differs from the National Development Team (that competed in Borneo earlier this year) which is made up of Filipino heritage players based in the Philippines. It is envisaged that both development teams will become a source of players for the National Rugby Team (Philippine Volcanoes).
PRFU Development Team:
Paulino Chiu Jr.
Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala
The Hong Kong Tertiary Team are a select group of players from the top university teams in Hong Kong. Many of them play in Hong Kong's Under-20s National Team and will eventually be part of the Men's National Squad ranked #2 in Asia.
The matches are open to the public and will be played on the following dates:
August 17: Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila, 3pm-5pm
August 20: RECS Complex, San Luis, Laguna, 3pm-5pm