India maul Pakistan to meet Guam in 5 Nations rugby final
KUALA LUMPUR, May 30: India and Guam progressed through to the finals of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations rugby Division II championships with wins over Pakistan (34-5) and Indonesia (38-17) respectively in the semi-finals played at the Stadium Kelana Jaya on Wednesday.
A classic sporting rivalry between India and Pakistan was a highlight of the day’s Division II action. While an India win never looked in doubt, Pakistan achieved some moral victories in holding India to its lowest ever winning margin between the two sides, (29 points), and managed to tally their first try against their neighbours when winger Ahmed Fiaz scored in the 71st minute.
Despite blooding 11 new players in the encounter in the India game, Pakistan looked much improved after a strong preparation period under new coach and former Ireland international and European Cup champion Justin Fitzpatrick.
India also entered this year’s tournament with a raft of new players and a new coach in Mitsutake Hagimoto, who also coaches the Japan Women’s team.
India opened well, scoring four tries in the first half in hot and humid conditions today in Kuala Lumpur. They opened the scoring through lock Surinder Singh in the 9th minute, with fullback Rohaan Sethna adding a try and his own conversion moments later, en route to nine points on the day (1 try, 2 conversions). Other first half tries came through winger Vikas Khairi and flanker Tuiweli Serukalou.
In the second half, India added a further two tries through reserve flanker Shokender Singh and No 8 Hrishikesh Pendse. Sethna’s 2 conversions and brought the final score to 34-5.
Pakistan’s Irish coach Justin Fitzpatrick said: “There is a lot of personal pride involved for the players from both teams. India were promoted two years ago and are an older and more established rugby nation so they are really the form side in this rivalry.”
Pakistan manager Rizwan Malik also spoke about the contest saying, “For both countries, an India-Pakistan game means a lot. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, it gets a lot of attention. While we didn’t win today, I am satisfied with the way the players went, particularly the new caps.
In the other match between second and third seeds Guam emerged better than Indonesia to win 38-17.
India will face Guam in the finals of Division III on Friday, June 1.—Agencies