The National U19 Rugby team, the Jr. Volcanoes will face fierce rivals Malaysia in their bronze medal match up on Saturday after conceding to 27 points to six defeat at the hands of Korea.
The Jr. Volcanoes, powered by First Pacific and the MVP Sports Foundation, showed true grit in their much-anticipated match up. The Volcanoes came out of the gates with fire in their chests, holding out a physical Korean outfit in the first half.
The Koreans leaped to a 10 to nil lead after thirteen minutes, it wasn’t until Ryan Santos kept the Philippines in the match with his super boot, kicking two penalty goals and bridging the gap to 10 points to 6 with three minutes to play. After some positive team play in the final stages of the first half, the Philippines looked to take the lead after Wiremu O’Reagan broke the line however was desperately covered short by a suburb Korean defense. A penalty after the siren took the Korean’s out to a 13 to 6 lead at half time.
The second half started strongly for the Philippines, a match which was physically brutal for both teams. A standout for the Philippines, Jeromy Cairns, provided strong ball carries and solid defense, he continually tested the Koreans. Kai Stroem led the team as always in attack and defense. With 13 minutes to play, at 13 to 6, Korea leaped on a loose carry, scoring making it 20 to 6. A penalty try after foul play by the Philippines kept Volcanoes completely out with the final scoreline 27 to 6.
“It was close for the majority of the match. We held our own. Against a bigger, fitter and more experienced outfit the last 10 to 15 minutes was always going to be our toughest. Credit to Korea, they finished strongly. As all teams aim too. Proud of our guys though, we know we have what it takes to win at the international level. If we had scored in the final stages of the first half, could have changed the game. It’s a promising sign” Kai Stroem, Team Captain for the Philippines shared.
“They held in there, played with heart and belief. We always knew Korea would be physically dominant. Our players didn’t back down, sets up a great match for Saturday. True to it’s design, it’s a developing program, aimed for Philippine Rugby to test themselves against Asia’s best at a youth level. We saw that tonight. Allows our Union to bench mark where we are at, see what improvements need to be made, so we can continue to develop the standard of how we play” shared Jake Letts, Director for Philippine Rugby.
The Jr. Volcanoes will now look to play Malaysia for a Bronze medal finish. In other results, and in another close match, United Arab Emirates (UAE) progress to the final.
At 13 points to 14 after the first half, UAE also put in a second half performance racing away to win 34 to 13 win over Malaysia. The result sets up Korea and UAE for the Gold medal match, the Philippines fighting for Bronze.