x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Asian Five Nations: UAE rugby union side have a tough road ahead

The UAE national team travel to the Philippines in two weeks' time for a match that will decide their fate in the Asian Five Nations. Paul Radley reports.

After struggling against Hong Kong and South Korea, in white above, the UAE will get perennial champion Japan at Dubai and close the tournament against the Philippines at Manila.
After struggling against Hong Kong and South Korea, in white above, the UAE will get perennial champion Japan at Dubai and close the tournament against the Philippines at Manila.

The UAE were given a real-time indication of what they will be up against if they are going to stave off relegation from Asian rugby union's top flight when the fixture of their closest rivals was aired live on Al Jazeera on Friday.

The national team, who had a rest from competition this weekend, travel to the Philippines in two weeks' time for a match that will decide their fate in the Asian Five Nations.

Like the UAE, the Philippines are still searching for their first points in this year's competition after they lost 59-20 to Hong Kong in Manila.

The home side appeared to have the measure of Hong Kong in the early exchanges.

However, the UAE will have been encouraged by the way the guests then proceeded to dominate the forward exchanges, forcing two penalty tries at scrums in the first half.

The UAE enjoyed some joy against Hong Kong in the scrum when the sides met two weeks ago, and will hope to establish control there against the Volcanos on May 18.

"Philippines were everything we expected of them and more," Leigh Jones, Hong Kong's coach, said in a televised interview after the match.

"We knew we were in a game at half time but all credit to our lads. We changed what we were doing at half time and our tactics worked in the second half."

It seems likely that each of the UAE and the Philippines will still be without a point when they meet on the final weekend of the Asian Five Nations.

Philippines face a South Korea side who easily dispensed with the UAE in Al Ain last weekend.

If they were not already aware, results yesterday gave a graphic reminder that the national team's next assignment will be brutal.

Japan, the perennial champions, visit Dubai on Friday looking to wrap up another Five Nations title.

They beat South Korea - who won 75-10 in the UAE last weekend - by the comprehensive margin of 64-5 in Tokyo on Friday.

It was their 23rd straight bonus-point win in the competition to head into their game at the weekend with with an unassailable lead in this year's competition.

"It was a good first 40 minutes and although we got a little bit tired in the second half and were a bit flat, we finished well," Eddie Jones, the Japan coach, was quoted as saying.

 

Results and fixtures - Saturday

Japan 64-5 South Korea

Philippines 20-59 Hong Kong


Remaining UAE fixtures

Friday, 8pm kick-off: v Japan, The Sevens, Dubai

Saturday, May 18, v Philippines, Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila


Top scorers - Through yesterday

Ayumu Goromaru, Japan 63

Oh Youn-hyung, South Korea 25

Kenki Fukuoka, Japan 20

Kim Kwang-min, South Korea 20

Male Sau, Japan 15

 

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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