Newsflash: Singapore is relegated from Asian Five Nations

Singapore crashed to its third defeat in the Asian Five Nations today, a 6-64 whalloping by Hong Kong which has effectively relegated the Republic from the top tier of Asian rugby.

Singapore desperately needed to beat Hong Kong after its 0-65 and 19-22 losses to South Korea and Kazakhstan respectively but the chances of an away victory today against a side that has consistently beaten it by 20-30 points were always going to be slim.

But today’s nne-try loss was one of the Republic’s worst results against the Special Administrative Region since its record 3-164 loss to Hong Kong at the 1994 Asian Championships. It also underlined the fact that Singapore is truly out of its depth at this level of Asian rugby, even with a massive infusion of expatriate playing talent.

The hard truth: the Division One championship is where it truly belongs.

One now wonders whether the Republic could be on the receiving end of another world-record defeat when they take on Japan in their final game on Sunday.

The Japanese retained the A5N title today after obliterating South Korea 80-9 in a 12-try win. Yes, this is the same South Korean side that destroyed Singapore 85-0.

For the sake of Singapore rugby, one can only pray that the Japanese will decide to take their foot off the pedal in their remaining games now that they have won the A5N crown.

Here’s the report on both games. I found it here.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Japan defend Asian Five Nations Crown ( from www.rugbyworldcup.com)

Hirotoki Onozawa celebrated his 50th cap in style with a four-try haul as Japan overwhelmed Korea 80-9 at the Hanazono Stadium in Osaka on Saturday to successfully defend the HSBC Asian Five Nations crown with one round remaining.

In scoring four tries the 31-year-old wing, only the fourth Japanese player to reach the half century, took his tally to 37 in international rugby and moved past his coach John Kirwan’s return of 35 in 63 Tests for the All Blacks. He remains some way behind his former teammate Daisuke Ohata’s record of 69 tries in 58 Tests. 

“I’ll probably buy him a bottle of champagne and share it with him,” Kirwan said afterwards. 

Japan out-though, out-ran and out-muscled Korea in Osaka as they ran in 12 tries to extend their unbeaten record to seven matches in Top 5 history, the first of these tries coming in the sixth minute when Shaun Webb sliced through some weak defence to cross under the posts. 

Within minutes wing Ayumu Goromaru had scored Japan’s second try, only for Korea to respond with a drop goal from Hong Jun Ki to make it 12-3 after 18 minutes. That was as close as the visitors were to get with the remainder of the match all Japan. 

Missed opportunities  

Jack Tarrant and Onozawa got their names on the scoresheet before Ryan Nicholas, who had converted three of Japan’s first four tries, closed out the first half with by converting his own try to send the defending champions in leading 33-3. 

There was no let up by Japan after the break with Nicholas picking up Webb’s superb grubber kick to race away for his second try, although Korea did increase their tally with two penalties from Hong before the 50-minute mark. 

Onozawa resumed the scoring with the impressive Webb, Tarrant and Yuta Imamura also crossing the try line before it was left the wing to cap his milestone Test with his fourth try and seal Japan’s emphatic victory to secure the title ahead of the trip to face Singapore next Sunday. 

“We are delighted to win the HSBC Asian Five Nations,” said Japan assistant coach Grant Doorey, who had been in charge of the team all week with Kirwan in Dublin with the team presenting Japan’s bid to host Rugby World Cup 2015 or 2019 to the IRB Council. 

“We were a little loose in the first half and we know we have to step up for the Pacific Nations Cup. We left 20 to 30 points out on the field, but to concede just nine points is a positive.” 

Hong Kong end Singapore dream 

The other match on the penultimate weekend of the competition was equally important with victory a must for both Hong Kong and Singapore in their quest to remain in the Top 5 for 2010 when it will determine Asia’s qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. 

Hong Kong made the most of their home advantage to run out 64-6 winners over Singapore, securing a bonus point which means that victory in Kazakhstan next weekend will see them finish as runners-up to Japan and bettering the third place finish in the inaugural competition in 2008. 

The backline was key to Hong Kong’s success and scored all nine of their tries with left wing Adam Raby bettering his hat-trick against Korea last weekend by crossing for four in the second half after the hosts had led 24-6 at the interval.

Right wing Simon Smith had scored twice in the first half with Rowan Varty running in another from 75 metres, the centre breaking three tackles and running around a couple more defender to dot down under the posts with Singapore’s only reply two penalties from the boot of fly half John Forrester. 

Four try haul 

A sweeping move led to Raby’s first try and the bonus point for Hong Kong with the wing taking his tally to seven tries in two internationals before the final whistle with Varty also crossing for two more tries to complete his hat-trick and Kenzo Pannell kicking 17 points in the match at the Hong Kong Football Club.

“I’m just a finisher, I depend on the rest of the guys and all credit to them,” insisted Raby. “Maybe I might score five tries against Kazakhstan next week, or none. It will all depend on how the team goes.”

His coach Dai Rees added: “Everyone in Hong Kong focuses on winning the one game and staying in the top division, but the boys are better than that. I’m confident of going away to Kazakhstan and beating them for we are now playing with width and playing with shape.”

The loss condemns Singapore to an immediate return to Division I and the end of their World Cup qualifying dream, but the better for the lessons they have learned from playing against the elite nations in Asia. 

“Hong Kong was the better side,” admitted Singapore coach Danny Tauroa. “Today our guys saw the gap between playing club rugby in Singapore and playing for Singapore in games like these.”

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