Cambodia claim commanding lead in Division V


Cambodia captain Vireak Vannak and his fellow Koupreys breezed by Brunei 38-0 in match one of the HSBC A5N Division V championship. Photo: Kenji Demura (RJP).



Hosts Cambodia claimed a commanding lead in the two-match HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Division V test series versus Brunei after jumping out to a 38-0 win in the opening match at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Stadium in Phnom Penh.


Cambodia turned in a complete and convincing performance across the full 80 minutes this afternoon, starving Brunei of possession for the duration of the match. Brunei had a halting start to both the first and second halves as Cambodia repeatedly denied them opportunities. Compounding the issue for Brunei was a spate of poor handling that saw them concede possession at first-phase for the majority of the game. What little possession that Brunei enjoyed was snuffed out by a determined Cambodian defence


The hosts scored four of their six tries today in the opening half to jump out to a 24-0 lead and claim a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in the first half. 


The Koupreys opened the scoring in the 8th minute with fullback Rotha Nheb finishing off a flowing back movement in the corner. Scrumhalf Luke Wilkie then capped off a nice individual effort eight minutes later to push Cambodia ahead at 12-0 after the conversion by flyhalf Alexis Chevalier. 


No 8 Lavy Arashad crossed over for Cambodia’s third try of the opening stanza in the 33rd minute before flyhalf Chevalier added his own try five minutes later. Chevalier’s try was converted by centre Daniel Parkes to put Cambodia ahead 24-0 at halftime.


Last year, Cambodia let Brunei steal a come from behind win after jumping out to a 15-0 lead at the half. That result saw the hosts finished third in last year’s competition behind Brunei and Laos (who were promoted to Division IV after winning Division V in 2012 – their third consecutive win at Division V level).


This year saw Cambodia resumed play obviously intent on avoiding a repeat of last year’s meltdown.  Cambodia never took their foot off the gas and early pressure in the second half saw flanker Matt Reese scoring the first of a personal brace in the 47th minute to give Cambodia a 31-0 lead.


Reese dotted down for his second try of the afternoon in the 65th minute to cap off a strong effort from the Cambodian forward pack on the afternoon. The conversion was added by Chevalier to bring the final score to 38-0. The emphatic win puts Cambodia in an advantageous position to claim the HSBC A5N Division V trophy when the two teams meet again on Sunday (kick-off at 15.00).


Cambodia captain and centre Vireak Vannak was obviously pleased with the result today saying, “This year we focused on our preparations and have been in steady training for two months with lots of discussion about the style we wanted to play. We are happy obviously with the result.


“I was very pleased at how the backs and forwards supported each other and worked together today. Wherever the ball was we were there in numbers. But we know that this is just the first contact. We haven’t won anything yet. Tomorrow we will train again and talk about what we need to do on Sunday.


“We haven’t won at this level in Division V in a while so we are intent on keeping up the hard work. We want to be smiling on Sunday or else all of the hard work we have put in won’t matter.”


Cambodia now leads the two-match series on 6 points (five for the win plus a single bonus point for scoring four or more tries), leaving Brunei with a steep hill to climb in Sunday’s second match.  


Brunei need an outright win on Sunday plus a bonus point to draw level with Cambodia. Brunei will have to post at least 39 points and hold Cambodia scoreless in the final to win through on points differential to claim the HSBC A5N Division V title.


Sunday’s final match of the HSBC A5N Division V will be the final match of the 2013 HSBC Asian 5 Nations with the HSBC Asian Sevens Series starting in August.  


The Division V final will be preceded by the HSBC ARFU Grassroots Coaching Tour with over 750 youth from local charities and schools taking part from 10.00am to 11.30am.  The festival of Asian rugby in Phnom Penh will also include an U15s curtain raiser match at 13.30 prior to the kick-off of the HSBC A5N Division V final at 15.00.  All matches will be held at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Stadium and attendance is free. 

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