Rugby: Singapore men and women fall at final hurdle

Singapore centre Nicholas Yau - who scored the home team's only try - is tackled during the 19-5 defeat by Thailand in the final of the South-east Asia Sevens at the National Stadium yesterday.
Singapore centre Nicholas Yau - who scored the home team's only try - is tackled during the 19-5 defeat by Thailand in the final of the South-east Asia Sevens at the National Stadium yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIN SIN THAI

Home-ground support proved no more than a consolation for the national men's and women's rugby sevens teams, as both fell to regional powerhouses Thailand, thwarted in their bid to be the first-ever South-east Asia Sevens champions.

The men's team, who breezed through Friday's group stage with three wins out of three, were defeated 19-5 by the Thais in the final at the National Stadium yesterday.

Despite being cheered on by a crowd of more than 10,000, Singapore used an aggressive pressing game which left plenty of gaps in their defensive line, allowing the men in blue to storm to a 14-0 lead after just four minutes.

A try from Thai winger Wutthikorn Kaewkhiao two minutes from the death sealed the game, despite Singapore centre Nicholas Yau's early try in the second half giving the hosts hope for a comeback.

A disappointed Singapore captain Daniel Marc Chow said: "They had a better first five minutes and it gave them momentum - it was always going to be hard to come back again.

"We just have to be more composed and less one-dimensional.

"There were little things we could have done, like making conscious efforts to attack inside gaps or play a bit differently… today just wasn't our day."

Earlier in the afternoon, the women's team succumbed to the Thais for the second time in the tournament. The 0-42 final defeat was almost a repeat of last year's SEA Games women's rugby sevens final (0-39).

Despite recording a more respectable 5-29 score against the Thais in Friday's group stage, the home team had no answer to their opponents' physicality on the wings, and struggled to retain possession throughout.

Coach Wang Shao Ing, however, was pleased with her charges' efforts, highlighting the fact that only two players from last year's SEA Games squad (captain Alvina Neo and Christabelle Lim) remain in the team.

She said: "The positive thing is we didn't concede any tries through the middle, which to me demonstrates the girls' effort.

"With regards to the SEA Sevens, we met our target of getting into the finals, beating the other teams along the way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 17, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore men and women fall at final hurdle'. Print Edition | Subscribe