Malaysia and Thailand battle for bragging rights in D2 final

 

Lock turned winger Dinesvaran Krisnan scored 3 tries against China

 

Malaysia hammered China 89-nil and Thailand beat Iran 37-17 to progress through to the finals of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Division II championships in today’s semi-finals played at the Stadium Kelana Jaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

HSBC A5N Division II and III are both being played this week in Kuala Lumpur and are doubling as the latest stages in the Asian qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.

 

The qualifiers started in Manila in April when the Philippines Volcanoes became the latest team to crack the elite HSBC A5N Top 5 competition. The Volcanoes will play in next year’s Top 5 after earning promotion by beating Sri Lanka in the Division I final.

 

It was a battle between pace and power in today’s match between second seeds Thailand and third seeds Iran, with the former winning out as Thailand efficiently handled Iran.

 

Thailand’s strategy of moving their far larger and heavier opponents around the park in steamy conditions paid off as the Thais jumped out to a 17-5 lead at the half.

 

Silky Thai fullback Walongkorn Khamkoet struck first for Thailand, converting his own try to edge his side ahead 7-0. Khamkoet, (who was the top scorer in the HSBC A5N Division II championship in India in 2010 with 44 points from two games), posted 25 points today from two tries, three conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.

 

Iran hit back soon after with hooker Iraj Abdi scoring his first of two tries in the match, one in either half, to bring Iran close at 7-5. The remainder of the opening half was Thailand’s as they added a further 12 points through a try from Thai centre and captain Tanyavit Kuasint and a conversion and penalty from Khamkoet.

 

Iran started strong in the second half, dominating possession early on as Abdi scored his second try shortly after the resumption of play.  But the conversion was again unsuccessful, giving Thailand the opportunity to maintain their narrow lead at 17-10.

 

As the match wore on, the heavier Iranians began to tire and Thai fullback Khamkoet again took advantage, scoring eight of Thailand’s next ten points through his second try and a drop goal. A further try from reserve Adsawin Thiamyod, converted by Khamkoet, gave the Thais an unassailable lead at 37-10. 

 

Iran salvaged some pride with a late try through No 8 Ahmad Ettehadpoor, which was converted by flyhalf Amin Hosseinzadeh, brought the game to a close at 37-17.  Iran will now play China in the 3rd/4th place play-off on Saturday, June 2, (kick-off 14.30) with relegation to next year’s Division III at stake.

 

Thai captain Kuasint said, “I’m very proud of my team. We knew that Iran would pose a very physical challenge for us today but we had the benefit of some experienced players and some young blood that really fit our game plan of trying to keep out of contact and move the Iranians around to tire them out.

 

“But it is only one match and we have come here to earn promotion to Division I and try and qualify for the Rugby World Cup, so we still have a lot of work to do.”

 

In today’s second match, Malaysia hammered China 89-0 with a 14-try onslaught that saw Malaysia’s back three all score tries in the opening ten minutes of play. 

 

Malaysia dominated in every facet of the game today with Dinesvaran Krisnan, who moved to the wing in 2012 after playing lock in last year’s Division I championship in Korea, accounting for three tries in the match.  Fullback Zulkifli Azmi lead the team’s scoring today with 19 points from two tries, a penalty and three conversions. 

 

No 8 Mohammad Amin Jamaluddin, centre Timochi Nacocula and flyhalf Velia Tuinivanua all scored braces today; four other players scored single tries for Malaysia as well.

 

After the match, Malaysia coach Boon Chee Hee said: “There is a lot of hype around the China team as they are number four in Asian sevens, so the guys were really up for the match. We were keen to get a good start and we couldn’t ask for more than we had today. Now we will face Thailand in the final and there is a long rivalry between us and Thailand so I am sure the team will be ready once again. We will now go away and work on how to contain the Thai backline which is quite strong and will pose a stiff challenge. I think it is going to be a very entertaining final on Saturday.”

 

Tomorrow (Friday June 1) will see the HSBC A5N Division III final between India and Guam (kick off at 16.30), while Indonesia and Pakistan will contest third place (14.30).  Entrance to all matches this week is free.

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