A highly combative and committed Laos mauled Brunei 70-7 in the second game of the 2012 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division V tournament at the Old Stadium yesterday.
Combining their muscle power with impressive line speed, the Laotians were so ruthlessly efficient that the Bruneians were in all sorts of strife from the word go.
The Laos pack rolled their way up the pitch with such force and regularity that in the first 20 minutes there were four tries and conversions.
By half-time, the signs of a rout were ominous for Brunei as Laos added two more tries and conversions to change ends at an imposing 42-0.
Brunei could hardly alter the balance on the pitch after the break, conceding four more five-pointers to some adventurous advances by Laos.
A momentary aberration in the Laos defence allowed Brunei a lucky break up field for their only try from scrum half Zihad Ramiee, with captain Petrus Tuan converting.
Centre Anousith Phaipanya led the try-hunt for Laos with three, followed by scrum half Savanhxay Xayyasone with a double. Kicker Christopher Mastaglio, who converted all 10 of the Laos’s tries, also hauled the ball across the line once in the first half.
The other Lao touchdowns in the second sessions came from Nicolas Sisombath, Phouphet Phoutthavong and Lee Sheridan.
“It was a good win after some hard work. We played how we trained,” Laos head coach Shirley Russell told the Post after the match.
“Our line speed was very good throughout. Our pressure turned the Brunei defence shaky. Christopher Mastaglio’s inspirational kicking built up the momentum for us.
“Brunei had bigger players, but better technique always beats size.”
Brunei coach Julian Pestone said the result and the margin were disappointing and that they had allowed Laos too much leeway during the first half.
Laos lead the three-team table with six points, followed by Brunei on five. Cambodia have just one point, a bonus they picked up in their 19-15 loss to Brunei on Tuesday.
The event comes to a head at 3:30pm tomorrow, when Laos and Cambodia clash in a decisive fixture that the home side has reasons to believe is a grudge game.
Cambodia’s head coach, Richard Flanagan, praised the fluidity Laos displayed against Brunei.
“They were very impressive. Their passing was crisp. We are looking forward to Saturday’s game,” Flanagan said.
“Last year, we lost twice to Laos in desperately tight finishes, the margins being a point or two. I am confident we can turn it around.
“The key for us is to keep the ball and hold the right territory,” the coach added.
Despite Laos’s thrashing of Brunei, Russell would not be drawn into boasting of another walkover.
“We beat Cambodia by a nose the last time we met. It is a tough game, but we hope to do well again. We have lot of positives to take from this game to Saturday.”
As part of the Cambodian Federation of Rugby’s developmental programs, a Children’s Clinic will be held at the Old Stadium at 11am tomorrow in association with the HSBC Asian 5 Nations.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]