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Laos Claim A5N Regional Title On Home Soil

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Packham Sensourivong scored a late breakaway try as Laos came from behind to beat Cambodia 8-3 and win the opening tournament of the HSBC Asian Five Nations 2009.

Laos, hosting the first of three Regional tournaments in the Asian Five Nations pyramid in Savannakhet, had trailed to Vireak Vannack’s first half penalty until the 70th minute when fly half Chris Mastaglio slotted a drop goal between the uprights to draw his side level.

Minutes later wing and man of the match Sensourivong pounced on a fumbled ball and then raced 70 metres to score the winning try and his third of the week in the three-team tournament.

Laos have now won their last three meetings with Cambodia and Saturday’s hard-fought victory also saw them retain the Mekong Cup, although coach Ian Melhuish admitted: “The match could have gone either way for most of the night. In the end it came down to one error that we capitalised on.”

The hosts were unbeaten in the tournament, having enjoyed a more comfortable 28-8 victory over Brunei last Sunday thanks to two tries apiece from Sensourivong and Will Luangrath.

Laos had to work hard for their victory over Cambodia

'Terrific improvement'

Brunei bounced back well from this opening defeat to beat Cambodia 21-10 on Wednesday, their greater size in the forwards a key element in the victory – their first since the Asian Five Nations was introduced last year.

Nobel Lee, Ahmad Faez Anuar and Mohd Shafiee Matali scored Brunei’s three tries to cancel out Rotha Nhab and Samedi Chan’s tries for Cambodia.

Despite his side suffering two defeats, Cambodia coach Peter Maley said they had enjoyed a “great week” as he noted the improvement in standards between the three nations in recent years.

“It’s just terrific to see how these kids have improved over the years, not only on the field but off it. These guys who are playing each other now will be the guys organising these matches in years to come and it’s great to see them sharing the victories and the defeats together.”

The next Asian Five Nations action will take place in Dubai from 8-11 April when Arabian Gulf, Chinese Taipei, Sri Lanka and Thailand contest the Division I title and the prize of promotion to the Top Five in 2010 – a tournament which will determine Asia’s qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.

The Top Five – featuring defending champions Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and 2008 Division I winners Singapore – kicks off on 25 April with Divisions II and III, along with two more Regional tournaments, to follow before the end of the year.

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 April 2009 01:25 )