The Philippine national men’s rugby union team or the Volcanoes raced to a big first half lead before turning back a furious rally by Sri Lanka to pull out an exciting 28-18 victory in the Asian Five Nations Division I tournament Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
With the win, the Volcanoes won the tournament and gained promotion to the Top 5 division of Asian Five Nations.
The Filipinos had an explosive start, taking a 23-3 lead by the break. But Sri Lanka came roaring back in the second half, scoring 15 points to close the gap to a single try.
Sri Lanka looked poised to equalize, but the Volcanoes pounced with a counter-attack capped by a try conversion by Justin Coveney at the 77th minute to put the game away.
British-Filipino center Oliver Saunders, the hero of the Volcanoes’ first tournament win against Singapore, was again named man of the match.
“I can’t describe the feeling, I’m at a loss for words,” he said.
Volcanoes coach Expo Mejia was all praises for his squad after their victory.
“I’ve never coached a team like this,” he said. “They’re very proud of their Filipino heritage, and they did this for the people.”
“We’re hoping the Filipino people can get behind the sport.”
The win not only gave the Philippines a ticket to the elite division of the sport in Asia, but it kept their hopes alive for a spot in the Rugby World Cup set in 2015.