South Korea beat Philippines 52-22 in Laguna, Philippines to secure third place in the Asian Rugby Football Union’s 2014 Asian 5 Nations Top 5 tournament (ARFU A5N).
Korea also secured a place at the elite end of Asian rugby with next year’s revamped competition structure changing to a home and away tournament amongst the top 3 teams in the region. Japan and Hong Kong, who play in Tokyo tomorrow (May 25), have also booked their place in the Top 3 in 2015.
South Korea put on a show of running rugby in the Philippines, scoring eight tries with all four first half tallies coming from deep within their own territory. The scoring was started by 20-year old winger Jeong Yong Sik, with the Korean University flyer scoring a brace in the opening ten minutes to put his side firmly in control. Centre Kim Nam Uk and fullback Jang Seong Min added tries to put the Koreans ahead 28-15 at halftime after flyhalf Oh Youn Hyun was successful with all four of his first half conversions.
Philippines captain Oliver Saunders scored in the first half and converted his own effort, while fullback Michael Letts also crossed over before the interval. A late penalty from Saunders accounted for the Volcanoes scoring in the opening stanza.
In the second half, the Korean pack finally got in on the action with No. 8 Kim Hyun Soo crossing over in the 48th minute, followed closely by Kim Nam Uk, collecting his brace, to widen the gap. Winger Kim Gwong Min and reserve Shin Ki Cheol added late tries while the Philippines scoring in the final forty minutes came from centre Matt Saunders with the conversion from reserve Alexander Aronson.
The win sees South Korea through to next year’s Top 3 competition, while the Volcanoes will join Sri Lanka (fifth placed finisher in this year’s Top 5) as the top seeds in what will be a tough Division I bracket next season, along with Kazakhstan and Singapore, both teams with previous Top 5 experience.
The top two spots in next year’s three team competition will be filled by Japan and Hong Kong, who are both undefeated entering week 5 of the A5N Top 5. Japan host Hong Kong tomorrow (May 25) in the finale of the Top 5 and the final game of Asia’s four-year Rugby World Cup qualification process. The winner will advance directly as Asia I to the Rugby World Cup while the runners-up will advance to the repechage match versus Uruguay this summer.