[12 June 2010]: The men’s national rugby team of the Islamic Republic of Iran took its second consecutive win over a higher seeded team after a 19-6 win over Pakistan in today’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Division III Final. Guam easily handled the hosts Indonesia in the 3rd/4th place playoff today winning 49-12.
Iran will now be promoted to Division II where they will face relegated Division I team Chinese Taipei, India and Thailand in 2011. The win is Iran’s first tournament championship in the HSBC A5N after they took second place in the Kyrgyzstan regional (2008) and finished in third place in last year’s Division III competition in Manila, Philippines.
Iran held the upper hand throughout in a tight match that was disrupted midway through the first half by heavy rain and severe lightning (causing a 30-minute stoppage of play).
Iran started quickly again, picking up where they left off after beating Guam 44-11 in Wednesday’s (June 9) semifinal when they scored their first try after just 4 minutes. This afternoon it would again be the impressive Iranian forwards that made the difference as hooker Iraz Abdi plunged over from ruck ball in just the second minute. The conversion from fullback Farjam Atshan put Iran ahead 7-nil.
Pakistan struck back through a penalty by fullback Manan Naseem to claw back to 7-3 before heavy rain and lightning halted play at the 20-minute marker of the second half.
After a stoppage of play of 30 minutes the game was rejoined and the Iranians proved they were still hot - scoring within the first two minutes of the restart through a try to number 8 Yousef Jalali to bring Iran to 12-3. That score remained as the Pakistan defence righted itself and the conditions returned to near normal allowing Pakistan to bring its backline into more play.
After the half, Iran resumed normal service with its first try coming to centre Sajad Izadi in the 43rd minute, with Atshan again converting to push the challengers to 19-3 ahead.
Despite a fierce commitment from the Pakistan XV, in particular flanker Mansoor Rehan who was tireless in defence delivering some huge tackles and pestering the Iranian ball carriers throughout, Pakistan could not break the Iranian defence. The top seeds could account for only one more score in the second half through a penalty which was converted by Naseem. The hooter sounded with the final score 19-3 as a strong contingent of Iranian fans who had braved the weather rejoiced with their new national heroes as they were presented the Division III cup by HSBC A5N coach Frank Hadden.
Fortunately for the fans, the 3rd/4th place match was played under excellent conditions with light showers cooling the hot, humid conditions to facilitate some entertaining running rugby.
Unfortunately for the backers of the Indonesian Rhinos, however, the running rugby was in the wrong direction as Guam posted eight tries to lock in their position in Division III in 2011.
Only the strong boot of Indonesian captain Kirk Arundale kept the hosts in the match. Arundale turned in a true captain’s performance particularly as he was a positional change to halfback to shore up some unsteady service that hurt the Rhinos in Wednesday’s semi final. Arundale slotted four penalties all in the first half to account for all of Indonesia’s points this afternoon. Arundale’s first penalty came in the 5th minute giving the Rhinos their only lead of the match at 3-0.
Guam’s four first half tries came from flanker Sakiusa Naivana, prop Matt Toves, and fullback Paul Estaquio. Centre Randy Mendiola scored the try of the day as he collected an errant kick from flyhalf Chris Sgro at the halfway marker before stepping his way through six defenders to cross over the line and state the visitors’ intentions to keep ball in hand for the remainder of the afternoon.
Guam’s second half tries came from winger Jesse Manglona and No. 8 John Arceo while Eustaquio and Mendiola each added second tries in the final stages. Reserve winger Stephen Santos, (who scored Guam’s only try in the opener against Iran), again looked sharp and took his opportunities with the boot well with three conversions and a penalty to round out the scoring.
Guam’s performance will see them retain their Division III space for 2011 and will provide a new impetus for rugby on “the Rock” as they prepare for next year’s Division III competition which will feature relegated Division II side China, Pakistan and Guam.
For more information please visit www.asian5nations.com
HSBC A5N Division III Final
Pakistan (6): Manan Naseem (2P)
Iran (19): Iraz Abdi (1T), Yusef Jalali (1T), Sayad Izadi (1T), Farjam Atshan (2C)
Half-time score: Pakistan 3 – 12 Iran
Referees: Mohammad Azhar (Singapore), AR1 – Liu Hao (China), AR2 – Steve Mitchell (Indonesia)
3rd/4th Place Playoff:
Guam (49): Randy Mendiola (2T), Paul Estaquio (2T), John Arceo (1T), Matt Toves (1T), Sakiusa Naivana (1T), Jesse Manglona (1T), Stephen Santos (3C, 1P)
Indonesia (11): Kirk Arundale (4P)
Half-time score: Guam 22 – 12 Indonesia
Referees: Liu Hao (China), AR1: Steve Mitchell (Indonesia), AR2: Mark Manderson (Indonesia)