Article – Asia Rugby
Guam took an early lead in round one of the Asia Rugby Championship Division III East tournament after beating hosts Indonesia 17-6 at the British School Jakarta today.
Guam will now face the third team in the single round robin tournament, China, on Wednesday, 10 June. That game will be a rematch of the 2014 Division III final in Laos, which China won 41-10.
The winner of the Division III East will join Division III South Central Asia winners Uzbekistan in next year’s Division II competition alongside Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
An exchange of penalties in the first fifteen minutes – converted by Guam centre Chris Sgro and Indonesia fullback Justin Field respectively, set the stage for what was a tight encounter between two very physical opponents, particularly in the first half.
Guam fullback Edward Calvo finished a nice try against the run of play in the 23rd minute. Scrumhalf Ratu Uluiviti added the conversion to extend Guam’s lead to 10-3.
Justin Field clawed back a late penalty in the 40th minute to send the hosts into halftime trailing 10-6.
The stage was set for a tight finish but Guam were clearly the better side in the second half. Guam opened the scoring in the 56nd minute with a try from Chris Sgro, who finished as the top scorer today with 8 points. Uluiviti added the extras to complete the scoring at 17-6.
Indonesia challenged well throughout the last twenty minutes but a series of crucial unforced errors put paid to their hopes of a comeback or a bonus point for a loss within seven points.
Guam’s victory sets the stage for a climactic tie against China on Wednesday – a rematch of the final from last year’s Division III tournament, which China won 41-10.
Guam coach Tony Penn is aware that there his side will need to produce even more against China.
“China are the defending champions. They are big and skilled and really set the benchmark last year. We know the level we need to be at against them and we also know that we need to up our intensity still,” Penn said.
But Penn was pleased with what he saw from his charges against Indonesia. “At the end of the day it was two big and physical teams going at each other, but we took our opportunities better.
“There were a couple of costly turnovers for Indonesia which we were able to capitalize on that proved the difference ultimately. We still have things to work on but we’re happy with the win and to have drawn a line in the sand.
“We have a really young squad this year. Several senior players were unavailable so we have ten new players in the 23. It’s a building year for us, which is why I am really pleased with today’s win,” concluded Penn. Indonesia coach Simon Jones was left ruing missed opportunities after the opening loss.
“We are gutted because we know that we didn’t perform anywhere near the level we know we can do; we feel we’ve let ourselves and our fans down but we have a solid week of training ahead of us before we face China on Saturday and I’m sure we will come back and give a better accounting of ourselves.
“The times we got clean ball today we nearly scored. So there are no huge changes needed, we just need to eliminate the unforced errors. Congratulations to Guam they played the better rugby and scored both of their tries out wide which is always a sign of a well organised side.”
“We are definitely disappointed but we looked around the squad today and we are excited by what we are starting to see from the team. I have been involved with Indonesia for four years now and throughout that time it has been our goal to have a really representative team. This week there is only one lad who isn’t either a local boy or a long-term resident of the country, it truly is becoming a representative team and that’s exciting for us.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to give a true accounting of ourselves and to showing what we can do against China on Saturday.”
Today’s win has Guam at the top of the table on 5 points with Indonesia on zero points after failing to keep the losing margin to within seven points to secure the bonus point. Guam will play China on Wednesday (June 10 at 14.00) with the hosts facing China on Saturday (June 13 at 15.00).
All matches are being held at the British School Jakarta. Admission is free.