Victory gives the Garudas a perfect 4-0 record in the Premiership while Sisowath Knights fall to three defeats out of their four matches
LEAGUE leaders PSE Garudass held off a determined Sisowath Knights side 31-14 in Sunday's Cambodia Rugby Premiership match at Phnom Penh's Old Stadium.
The game appeared to be a mismatch at the opening as Garudass scored two tries in the first five minutes. Vannak Vireak took a pass off a ruck and scampered in from 25 metres out for a try in the second minute. Sun Malen's successful kick gave the Garudass a 7-0 advantage.
Then moments later, Sisowath fullback Chak Samnang, under pressure from a tenacious Garudass defence, fumbled the ball in the goal area. Garudass fullback Nhep Ratha fell on the loose ball to give his team a 12-0 lead in the fifth minute. Sun Malen's conversion made it 14-0.
Sisowath quickly regrouped as it used its forward pack to pound down the field. After 20 minutes fly-half Sam West found an opening off a ruck five metres out and dived in for the score. West's conversion then cut the Garudass lead to 14-7.
Sisowath continued to pound at the smaller Garudass side with some strong running by West and repeated pick-and-goes by prop Chro Kim Seang. He capped off a second period of Sisowath pressure after 38 minutes, intercepting a short pass from a Garudass lineout 10 metres from the line before eventually touching down in the corner after carrying three Garudass players on his back. West's successful conversion kick levelled the score at 14-14 just before the first half ended.
In the second half, the Garudass took command, utilising their speed advantage in the back line to score two tries in the first 15 minutes.
On 48 minutes, Vannak Vireak scored his second try as he took a pass from a scrum and sprinted untouched to score from 40 metres out. Sun Malen's conversion made it 21-14.
Sisowath attempted to answer, but a costly knockon near the Garudas 22 line stopped their momentum. The Garudas quickly took advantage as they moved down the field, culminating in scrum-half Pich Rattana's five-metre run off a ruck for a try on 55 minutes. The same player then converted to make it 28-14.
Sisowath never gave up, however, continuing to move closer to the Garudas goal, only to be stopped by a stout Garudas defence.
Pich Rattana ended the scoring with a penalty kick from 30 metres out on 70 minutes, giving the Garudass a 17-point advantage.
Afterwards, Garudas flanker Chey Sophal felt his team was fortunate to come out with a win.
"They [Sisowath] are very strong in the pack," said Chey Sophal. "They tackled hard and they didn't give up. They made a lot of trouble for us in the first half. So we made some adjustments at halftime, and moved the ball out more to our backs ... then we did better."
Premiership rugby action continues next Sunday, when Sisowath host Siem Reap at the Old Stadium. Kickoff is 3:30pm.