Singapore's men and women rugby sevens teams started slow and unsteady at a sold-out Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday, but eventually got into the groove to remain on course for maiden SEA Games golds.
The men fell 0-17 to the Philippines in the round-robin phase but bounced back with a crucial 14-5 win over Malaysia in front of 3,000 boisterous fans, who remained patient through two rain delays totalling almost two hours.
Prop Blandon Tan’s stunning try – breaking through multiple tackles from the halfway line – spurred the hosts past their Causeway rivals, who had taken an early 5-0 lead.
“Blandon’s try was the turning point for us – we had just lost to the Philippines and our place in the final was under threat until he stepped up with that,” said Singapore captain Daniel Marc Chow.
After the round-robin phase for both the men and women, the top two will face off in Sunday's finals, with the third and fourth-placed teams vying for the bronze.
The Reds, who had opened their campaign with a 36-0 rout of Cambodia, are expected to beat Thailand and Laos in their final group matches. That would book a re-match against an unbeaten Filipino side led by speedster Andrew Everingham, who plays for National Rugby League outfit South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Singapore's women, meanwhile, were thrashed 31-5 by Thailand. But they too regained their composure, storming to a 29-0 victory over Malaysia and a 54-0 whitewash of Laos.
Singapore skipper Samantha Teo said: "The girls were a little slow off the blocks today but we have progressed and are prepared to come out firing on Sunday to deliver a good showing."