A disappointing ending on both sides for Chinese
Updated: 2011-09-27 07:47
By Tym Glaser (China Daily)
Papua New Guinea star Joanne Lagona lays a crushing tackle on China's Dong Yue during the final of the Asia Pacific Women's Sevens Series on Sunday at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. [Provided to China Daily]
Men upset by Philippines in semifinals, while women are run over in final by PNG
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - A day that started so promising for China ended in disappointment at the Borneo Sevens tournament at the Likas Stadium on Sunday.
The women's team entered the final day of the three-day event as a favorite to claim the crown over Papua New Guinea in the final, while the men looked in peak form after winning all three of their group matches on Saturday.
The men defeated the United Arab Emirates, 31-10, in an early morning quarterfinal, but it turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory as two key players were injured and the side bowed out of the Cup competition in an overtime 19-14 semifinal loss the surprising Philippines.
"We had only seven fit players for the semi. We led the game twice, but they came back and I think we got tired at the end," said Zhong Min, the Chinese Rugby Football Association's deputy secretary general, who also acted as team manager for both Chinese sides at the HSBC ARFU Asian Rugby Sevens Series' final points event of the year.
"We also had a few of our best players away (with the army team in Australia). I think losing may not be too bad for this team," Zhong said, trying to put a positive spin on things. "We can get a copy of the DVD and study it and learn from our mistakes."
The upstart Philippine side made it all the way to the Cup final, where it ran into a buzz saw of a Japan team and was trounced 46-0.
It was the farthest the side has progressed at an international Sevens tournament, and coach Matt Cullen was thrilled with his team's effort.
"I am so proud of the boys they played above and beyond expectations," Cullen said. "They did the Philippines and themselves proud. Before the event we thought we could crack the top four; and then when we beat China we said, 'why not go all the way?'
"We set a few records and now we know where have to go and how hard we have to work to get there."
Cullen also said he had devised a plan for China after losing to that team four times in the past two years.
"They had beaten us out wide with their speed, so we were very wary of that and tried to bulk up outside and force them inside another area they had beaten us was with their kicking game, so we played our outside backs a bit deeper and that worked today."
While being pushed by PNG in their pool match and recording a slim 12-10 victory on Friday, the Chinese women were expected to be too fast and skilled for the Pacific team in the rematch.
The women were hit by a one-woman wrecking crew in the shape of Joanne Lagona.
The tall, strong Papuan ran in three tries and pummeled the Asians with some ferocious tackling in the final, which PNG won, 24-10.
"I am very disappointed," coach Xu Hui said after the final. "Our defense was very poor today and we just couldn't stop No 6 (Lagona). However, this is a young team, basically most of the Under-19 squad as the big players are preparing for the Asian Sevens Championships in India (next month)."