Arabian Gulf claims first Top 5 victory, edges Hong Kong 16-9
[May 1 2010]: The Arabian Gulf claimed its first ever HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) victory with a 16-9 win over Hong Kong this evening at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club. James Love scored 11 points (3P, 2c) to take the tournament’s top scorer honours in week two, while scrumhalf Jonny MacDonald scored the game’s sole try. Hong Kong’s Keith Robertson accounted for all nine of the visitors’ points through three penalties.
The Arabian Gulf jumped out to a 13-3 lead at halftime courtesy of 8 first half points to Love, who plays his club rugby for Bahrain RFC and was basking in the affection of this evening’s 1800 spectators. Later, Jonny Macdonald snuck through for the only try of the game, with Love’s conversion giving the hosts a 10 nil lead. Hong Kong flyhalf Keith Robertson secured Hong Kong’s first points with a penalty to bring the score to 10-3 with only a minute left in the half.
The Arabian Gulf quickly closed the door on any potential momentum that Hong Kong could take from Robertson’s penalty through stifling defence. In the final minute of the half, Love slotted a second penalty to send the Gulf into halftime up 13-3.
Despite running agains play for large parts of the match, the Arabian Gulf defence held strong and they took their chances well. They could only muster three more points in a tense second half but it would be enough to seal a historic win for Arabian Gulf rugby.
Robertson added two penalties for Hong Kong to claw the game back within a converted try but the Arabian Gulf did enough to hold on for an historic victory to mark its promotion to the A5N Top 5 in 2010 after being relegated to Division I last season.
An ecstatic Arabian Gulf captain Michael Cox-Hill applauded his team saying, “It was a great effort from the boys. They could not have given any more than they did.”
Another great effort will be required by the Arabian Gulf as they travel away to Tokyo next week to open this year’s A5N action in Japan at the legendary Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium.
Japan opens its HSBC A5N account on the road today with a match against archrivals South Korea, who lost last week to Hong Kong 32-8 at the Hong Kong Football Club. Initially targeting this match as a must win, Hong Kong will look to right its Rugby World Cup 2011 qualification campaign with a titanic clash against Kazakhstan next weekend in Happy Valley.