MANILA, Philippines — A scene never recorded in Philippine Rugby history, saw the U19 national Rugby team turn the tables on Thailand at the jaws of defeat that all but sealed a championship match with Sri Lanka.
The Volcanoes had been tested throughout the entire match by a strong Thailand outfit that seemed to have the momentum for the majority of the match but the Junior Volcanoes refused to back down.
Owen Gasgonia Wakeham scored early in the match which he then converted, however, Thailand struck back with three consecutive tries and continued to pile on the pressure in both attack and their set-piece structure.
The Philippines showed glimpses of brilliance in attack and kept defending with quick line speed to hold themselves within a respectful distance.
After 70 minutes, the Philippines were down 17 to 10 when a perfectly executed set-piece move from a line-out saw replacement hooker Paco Locsin barge over the try line to give the Junior Volcanoes some hope. As the full-time siren had just sounded, Wakeham then converted a near-perfect kick from the sideline to throw the match into overtime and make it 17 to 17.
Tournament rules stipulate any match that is drawn after full-time is decided by a structured kicking contest. Both teams select five kickers to participate in a ‘kick contest’ from three areas across the field.
The Philippines nominated their specific five kickers and kicked first. Golden boot Wakeham converted the first while Thailand matched his skill. At one conversion a piece, the second kick was taken by Jaime Chuidian and the Volcanoes placed the pressure on as Chuidian’s conversion was successful.
Louis Sollano-Antonio took the third attempt where he was also successful in placing additional pressure on Thailand, which they could not withstand.
Patrick Deguia Badana Hill was selected as the fourth kicker and his conversion secured a dramatic victory over a valiant Thailand outfit.
After winning the first of two semi-finals the Junior Volcanoes who are backed by both the MVP Sports Foundation under First Pacific since 2014 and the Philippine Sports Commission, progressed to the Division 1 grand final where they face Sri Lanka on Saturday December 14 in Chongqing, China for the championship title.
This result will register the Philippines highest ranking in the U19s standings since 2009. (AO/IAMIGO/CNS)