A Saigon Geckos player (centre) is tackled by two PSE Garudas players during the ANZ Royal Angkor 10s rugby tournament final. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
PREVIOUS WINNERS OF THE ANGKOR 10S
2001 - DEA Tigers, Hong Kong
2002 - Fanny Dorks, England
2003 - Manila Nomads, Phillipines
2004 - Bangkok British Club, Thailand
2005 - Cairns Brothers, Australia
2006 - French Asian Barbarians, France
2007 - Bedok Kings, Singapore
2008 - Les Piliers d’Angkor, Cambodia
2009 – Rhinos, Hong Kong
IN a fitting end to an explosive day of rugby action, expatriate side Saigon Geckos pipped home favourites PSE Garudas 17-12 with a dramatic extra time sudden-death try to emerge winners of the International ANZ Royal Angkor 10s tournament at the Old Stadium on Saturday.
In fast fading light, the Vietnamese-based outfit found a hero in Peter Henderson, who stormed through Garuda defence like an enraged bull for the match winning score. The Kiwi was the man of the moment for the Geckos, who had run into stiff resistance from a resurgent local team.
The Garudas had clawed their way back into the 20-minute long ANZ Royal Cup final with two splendid tries and conversions to force a 12-12 deadlock after the Vietnamese side had stolen a march with two quick tries and conversions of their own in a dominant first-half display.
Captain Tom Percasky, who doubles up as the Saigon Geckos coach, was delighted to see his side clinch the Cup after several attempts by Vietnamese lineups over the years. “We had never won this before, and to do it in the thrilling way we did is just amazing,” he said moments after victory.
“The response from Garudas was surprisingly quite strong, but we managed to pull it off thanks to Hendersen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Garuda coach Alain d’Arc said he was proud of his team. “They played quite well and lost to a much stronger team,” he said.
The ten sides in the fray for the milestone 10th anniversary event were split into two groups. A select team from Phnom Penh named the Unknown Barbarians was hastily assembled to be last minute replacements of the Manila Nomads, who failed to show.
After an intense round of group clashes, the set of final battles produced plenty of drama and excitement for a predominantly foreign crowd.
Cambodian rugby was given a welcome boost when local side Sisowath Knights trounced Hanoi Dragons in the Plate Final to determine the third and fourth places.
Further down the field, Singapore's Bedok Kings proved too good for local team Stade Khmer in the Bowl Final, winning 19-7 to clinch fifth place. The seventh place deciding Shield Final was a one-way street as Thailand's Southerners blanked Insead Barbarians from Singapore 26-0. Dubai Exiles were comfortable 22-5 winners over Unknown Barabarians in the Spoon final.
The Cambodian Federation of Rugby, who organised the weekend event, treated the players to a gala awards dinner in the evening at NagaWorld. The hotel and casino has agreed on a one-year sponsorship deal with the CFR. During the dinner, John Bentley of the Dubai Exiles was named the player of the tournament.
In the best tradition of the Angkor 10s, the day before the international event had been set aside for the Old Boys reunion. Australia's Box Hill Unquenchables joined the Kingdom's Phnom Penh Pirates and a joint team from Cambodia, Lao and Vietnam called the Indochine Barbarians in a day-long fun-filled affair, that was more about celebration than competition.
The President of the CFR, Tan Theany, hailed this year’s Angkor 10s tournament as a great success.
“The fact that two Cambodian teams finished among the top three bodes well for us,” she said.