Rugby: S'pore pay the price for taking it easy against China

Rugby: S'pore pay the price for taking it easy against China

SINGAPORE - Singapore were left to rue their lack of focus that cost them a targeted top-six finish in the Singapore leg of the HSBC Asian rugby seven series.

They finished bottom of Pool A after losing to China 14-24 and Hong Kong 0-36 in front of 1,500 spectators at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday.

This means they will contend in the bowl competition today and cannot finish higher than ninth in the 12-team competition - a blow to their hopes of playing at next year's Asian Games.

While the heavy defeat by pre-tournament favourites Hong Kong was not surprising, it was the loss to China that stung more.

Despite leading 14-0 early in the first half, the hosts took their foot off the pedal, allowing China to score four tries and two conversions for the comeback win.

Singapore coach Inoke Afeaki felt his charges were perhaps too complacent.

"Maybe we were resting on our laurels coming into the game. Our level of skill and execution were poor," he said.

"We played well in the first five minutes and then the boys switched off. Maybe we need to drink more coffee in the morning.

"We weren't alert enough."

Captain Daniel Marc Chow also felt his team lacked composure against China.

He said: "Some of us were getting really excited, everyone was eager to get on the ball, and we lost a bit of composure.

"We've to pick ourselves up and look forward to tomorrow. We want to win the bowl competition."

Afeaki felt the team redeemed themselves against Hong Kong as they covered more ground in defence and put more effort in their tackling.

He said: "That was a heartening performance from the boys. Despite the scoreline, we made it hard work for them."

There was a further setback for Singapore as vice-captain Bryan Ng is out for the rest of the two-day competition.

The 26-year-old is ruled out for two to three weeks after suffering a plantar ligament sprain in the China match.

In the day's other matches, 2011 series champions Japan joined Hong Kong in the Cup quarter-finals after wins against Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

Tickets for today's action can be bought at www.ticketbooth.com.sg and the stadium entrance. Under-17 youth enjoy free entry.

siangyee@sph.com.sg


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