SINGAPORE - They huffed and puffed, and demonstrated great promise to win the tournament.
But against bigger and badder opponents, Singapore lost 14-0 to the United Arab Emirates in the Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy final at Queenstown Stadium on Sunday (Aug 5).
The result meant that the west Asian side will be promoted to the Asia Rugby Sevens Series at the expense of the Republic, who were relegated from that division in 2016.
On Saturday, Singapore had swatted aside Bangladesh, Brunei and Pakistan before seeing off Kazakhstan 33-10 in yesterday's semi-final.
UAE hooker Kinivilame Natuna told The Straits Times: "We are really proud of this historic achievement and how we can give back to our country through rugby.
"Looking at how Singapore played throughout this tournament, we felt they were the better team, so we had to think out of the box and work on our breakdowns and defence."
The visitors achieved these when they beat Thailand 26-0 in the semi-final before shutting out Singapore in the final.
Natuna scored the UAE's first try in the fourth minute after a quick switch of play from right to left, before Vito Tuivione scrambled over three minutes later. Tuivione also made both conversions.
Singapore showed good spirit in the second half but poor decisions in the opponents' half meant they failed to find a way back.
Singapore coach Tom Browne told ST: "We are desperately disappointed by the result. We were physically intimidated and outplayed. We set our standards and target of winning this tournament and promotion and we did not step up.
"The UAE took the direct route. It did not surprise us but their style of play is not something we are used to and we need to improve on our decision-making under fatigue.
"We always felt that if we could have scored a try in the second half, we would be right back in it but such is the fine margin in sport.
"The Singapore Rugby Union and Sports Singapore have been really supportive of our programme. We have some really promising Under-20 players, and we will now regroup, continue to learn, develop and come back stronger."