The Cambodian national rugby team, the Koupreys, breezed past the Leopards of Brunei 28-0 in yesterday’s second leg at the Old Stadium to make a clean sweep of their HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division V series double-header.
The Koupreys banked four tries and as many conversions to kill any hopes of a Brunei fightback, having scored an emphatic 38-0 win in the first leg on Friday.
Winger Vannara Norn, flanker Matt Reese, scrum half Luke Wilkie and centre Vireak Vannak crossed over for the home team, while outside half Alexis Chevalier was spot on with all four conversions, two straight up and the other two nice and clean between the posts from out wide.
Cambodia captain Vireak Vannak, who polished off the game with a strong push through a series of hounding tackles to land the side’s fourth and final try late in the second session, put the victories down to solid preparation.
“Our teamwork was excellent as it was on Friday. We hadn’t won at this level for some time now and the two victories are highly satisfying,” he said, after leading the side to a two-match total of 11 points including a bonus for scoring four tries in the first half of Friday’s contest.
Koupreys coach Laurie Karatau of New Zealand told the Post he was very happy the hard work had paid off.
“I did expect the second game to be a lot harder than the first but our players got going just the way they did on Friday.”
Brunei coach Ben Bourne, meanwhile, was left to rue missed opportunities.
“On Friday, we made too many mistakes and wrong choices,” he added.
Winger Norn Vannara produced the first try for the hosts when he drifted across midfield close to the touchline, taking the Brunei defence completely by surprise. He was lucky enough to see the ball he had just kicked to keep the move alive come back to him after hitting a lone defender.
Flanker Matt Reese, who had rounded off Friday’s tally with a lucrative double of trys, consolidated the lead as the Koupreys took to the break 14-0. One of the try scorers in the first game, Luke Wilkie, carried the ball through for a five-point grab and Vireak touched down after braving a rough passage.
Chances for Brunei were few and far between. So hopelessly pinned down in their own real estate were they that the Leopards found breaks into rival territory a tough proposition.
Before the final game, a HSBC ARFU grassroots coaching program involving scores of youths from local charities and schools was carried out.
On Friday, the visitors reeled under the relentless force of the Koupreys’ pack as Cambodia took a 24-0 first-half lead through four tries, with a bonus point given for that feat.
Two more tries and conversions in the second session saw the home side to an impressive victory and sweet revenge for their 15-19 defeat by Brunei in last year’s fixture at the same venue.
Stretched and strained as they were for most of the 80 minutes, Brunei could only manage space and possession sparingly, and a tight Cambodian defence ensured that the scoring opportunities for their rivals were effectively sealed.
Fullback Nheb Rotha and Luke Wilkie produced two strong efforts to push the Koupreys to the front, with Alexis Chevalier making a neat conversion for a 12-0 lead.
The dependable No8 Lavy Arashad completed Cambodia’s third try before Chevalier got going with his own to record the fourth for the side. Centre Daniel Parkes converted Chevalier’s try to make it a solid 24-0 at half-time.
The Koupreys continued to pile the pressure on the visitors in the second session, with flanker Matt Reese crossing over twice and Chevalier’s conversions bang on target to leave Brunei with an uphill task in yesterday’s second game.
Last year Cambodia choked after taking a 15-0 lead and let Brunei get back into the game. That 19-15 loss pushed the Koupreys down to third place behind Laos and Brunei. On the strength of their two victories here in 2012, Laos earned promotion to Division IV this year.