Narrow defeat to Malaysia looks likely to cost UAE chance of promotion at Asian Championship
The width of a goalpost could be the margin which separates the UAE from promotion from the Asian Championship Division 2, after they fell to an agonising 20-19 defeat to Malaysia on Wednesday.
Hassan Al Noobi, who three days earlier had been celebrating the feat of becoming the first Emirati to score a Test try, struck the post with a late penalty kick.
Had it gone over, the national team would have been celebrating a victory in what is likely to be the decisive one in the four-team competition.
Roelof Kotze, the performance manager, said Al Noobi was not to blame for the defeat, as the side had collectively underperformed.
“The bus is like a graveyard,” Kotze said after the game. “To have it in your grasp and lose by a point, we are very disappointed.
“We had our chances, we didn’t use them, and that is unfortunately how rugby goes. Malaysia played to the best of their ability, whereas we were 60 or 50 per cent of what we are capable of.”
After conceding the first try, the UAE had been a lead over their hosts, thanks to two tries by Jaen Botes and one for Ed Lewsey.
However, Malaysia edged back ahead before the UAE passed up two late kicks at goal.
In the day’s other fixture, Chinese Taipei beat Thailand 29-24. The national team need Thailand, who they comprehensively beat in their opening game on Sunday, to beat Malaysia in the final round of matches on Saturday to stand a chance of advancing.
Results so far suggest that is unlikely and Adam Telford, the UAE captain, said his side are disappointed.
“That result is very difficult to take as we had built a lead, but we let it slip,” Telford said.
“We played more with our hearts than our heads at certain points in the game, we let an 11-point lead slip and that should never happen.”
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Updated: May 13, 2015 04:00 AM