TEAM Guam reached the final of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Rugby Division 3 tournament after grinding out a hard-fought win against last year's finalist Pakistan, 37-10 on the opening day of action Wednesday at the UPH Stadium in Karawaci, Jakarta.
According to a press release from Guam Rugby Football Union President Stephen Grantham, the win was based around a dominant forward pack which applied excellent pressure in both scrums and lineouts, supported by strong control of rucks and smothering defense in the backline.
Coach Hetaraka introduced a trick play – the "Valley" lineout – early in the game, explained Grantham in the release.
"This play, which features all 13 players on the field joining a lineout (which is normally only 7 players) and then pushing the ball carrier over the try line, resulted in Guam's first try to Chris Sgro," stated Grantham's release.
Sixto Quintella and Basil O'Mallan were dominant against the bigger Pakistan team in the battle of the lineout and were well-supported by industrious loose forwards, Rob Leon Guerrero and John Arceo. Guam players were able to apply pressure to move the ball wide with Sgro recovering his own clever chip kick and making a great pass to allow Stephen Santos to score out wide,” explained the release, adding that Sgro kicked a penalty to see Guam go into the half-time break ahead 13-3.
Guam exerted more dominance in the second half, playing the game mostly in the Pakistan half. A strong scrum led by front rowers Leonard Calvo, O'Mallan and Tony Gilbert set a good platform for Captain Paul Claros to create holes in the Pakistan defense from scrum half. Clever backline play saw Sgro and Randy Mendiola putting the ball in behind the big Pakistan backline, forcing them to continually defend. This set up opportunities for Claros and Leon Guerrero to score good tries through strong running down the blindside.
"With the match well-in-hand, Arceo scored a barn-storming try from the back of the scrum breaking through three defenders from 15 meters out to score in the corner and Steven Sablan sealed the result with a try in the closing minutes," according to Grantham.
Coach Willie Hetaraka was pleased with the win after a hard day at the office, noting the team's keen application of the game plan.
The coach looks forward to a date with the power of China in the final. He noted, "This Guam team plays with tremendous enthusiasm but also has great pride in representing the 180,000 people from our small island against teams from much larger countries. We will bring our talent and ability to the match against the powerful Chinese team on Saturday, but our secret weapon will be the pride in representing Guam."
Guam scoring summary: Tries to Sgro, Santos, Claros, Leon Guerrero, Arceo and Sablan. Sgro kicked two conversions and one penalty.
The final kicks off at 4 p.m. Indonesian time (7 p.m. Guam time) and fans can follow the scoring on Twitter at asian5nations.