Korea overpower Volcanoes to secure final spot in 2015 Top Three
South Korea defeated the Philippines 52-22 on Saturday to take third place in the 2014 Asian Five Nations and secure the final spot in next year’s revamped Top Three competition.
Japan and Hong Kong, who face off in Tokyo on Sunday, have already booked their places in the 2015 tournament involving the region’s top three national sides.
The Koreans put on a display of running rugby against the Volcanoes in Laguna, scoring four tries in each half, with the first four all coming from deep within their own territory.
Winger Jeong Yong-sik, 20, opening the visitors account with a brace inside the first 10 minutes and the Koreans never looked back. Centre Kim Nam-uk and fullback Jang Seong-min added one each to put the Koreans ahead 28-15 at the break, with fly-half Oh Youn-hyun successful on all four conversion attempts.
Philippines captain Oliver Saunders scored and converted his own effort, while fullback Michael Letts also crossed over before the interval. Saunders knocked over a late first-half penalty to keep the hosts in touch.
But the Korean pack found their feet eight minutes after the restart, with number eight Kim Hyun-soo crossing over, closely followed by centre Kim adding his second and widening the gap.
Winger Kim Gwong-min and replacement Shin Ki-cheol added late tries for the Koreans, while Philippines centre Matt Saunders crossed over for a try that was converted by reserve kicker Alexander Aronson.
While the win sees South Korea through to next year’s Top Three competition, the Volcanoes will join Sri Lanka, who finished fifth in this year’s Top Five, as the top seeds in what will be a tough Division I bracket next season, along with Kazakhstan and Singapore.
Meanwhile in Doha on Friday, Malaysia won the Division II title on their third attempt, beating hosts Qatar 31-22. The Malaysians had defeated Iran 43-22 earlier in the week to secure their spot in their third straight Division II final after losing the last two deciders against Singapore (2013) and Thailand (2012).
Qatar had demolished an understrength Thailand 24-11 in their Division II semi-final on Tuesday, but they were unable to capture a fourth consecutive cup win aagainst the determined Malaysian outfit.
Iran edged Thailand 26-23 in a tense third-place play-off match.
Malaysia and Qatar will retain their place in next season’s Division II competition with United Arab Emirates and Chinese Taipei rounding out the competition after dropping out of Division I earlier this month.