A top-class peformance by the Cambodian Rugby Union team to overcome a tricky Laos side 24-8 Saturday at Old Stadium helped heal the wounds
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 25 May 2009 05:24:47 -0700 (PDT)
Koupreys beat Laos to avenge loss
Written by Ray Leos
Monday, 25 May 2009
A top-class peformance by the Cambodian Rugby Union team to overcome a
tricky Laos side 24-8 Saturday at Old Stadium helped heal the wounds
from a last gasp loss to them in March.
LED by the standout play of veteran fly half Francois Bleriot and
young half back Phorn Bophan, an inspired Cambodia Koupreys team
dominated play all afternoon, beating Laos 24-8 in their rugby
friendly Saturday at Phnom Penh's Old Stadium. It was sweet revenge
for Cambodia, as the Koupreys bounced back from their heartbreaking
last second 8-3 loss to the Laotians in March during the HSBC 5
Nations Southeast Asia Regional Tournament.
"We wanted to make a statement today," said a beaming Cambodian No 8
Chey Sophal after the match. "People were starting to say how Cambodia
wasn't so good anymore and how Laos was now so much better than us.
But we played hard today, didn't make many mistakes, and we showed
everyone what we can do when we put our minds to it."
Cambodia dominated play in the opening minutes, controlling the
majority of possessions and spending most of their time in Laos
territory. Phorn Bophan made good on two penalty kicks in the 9th and
19th minutes, giving Cambodia a 6-0 opening advantage.
Meanwhile, some ferocious Cambodian tackling kept Laos at bay
throughout most of the first half, with the Kouprey defense bottling
up Laos fly half Chris Mastaglio, normally a key player in the Laotian
Laos got their first break of the day after 22 minutes, when Phorn
Bophan knocked on Mastaglio's unsuccessful penalty kick attempt,
resulting in a Laos five metre scrum. However, Laos was unable to
capitalise, with an offside penalty near the goal turning the ball
over to Cambodia.
Laos finally got on the scoreboard in the 29th minute as Mastaglio
nailed a drop goal from 12 metres, narrowing the score to 6-3.
Cambodia answered back with two minutes left in the half when a
Bleriot kick from midfield sailed over the head of two Laos defenders
near the 15-metre line. Kouprey captain Vannak Vireak gave chase,
picking up the loose ball and tumbling in for the try, although Phorn
Bophan's conversion attempt was unsuccessful and kept the score 11-3
to Cambodia at the halftime whistle.
As the second half ensued, Cambodia extended its lead close to the
hour mark as Phorn Bophan booted his second successful penalty kick of
the afternoon, making it 14-3.
Laos then saw a glimmer of hope, as it took the kickoff and began to
move down the field with some effective kicking and inside running by
its backs. At the Cambodian 10-metre line, centre Mit Oudone Keohanham
took a quick pass off a ruck, found a gap, and darted into the corner
for the try on 62 minutes. Mastaglio's conversion attempt failed, but
the Laotians were now within striking distance, trailing by only six
Cambodia quickly dashed any hopes of a Laos comeback, as Frenchman
Bleriot led his team quickly down the field with some sharp passing
and well placed kicks.
Aussie prop Ralph McMillan capped the scoring drive in the 69th
minute, as he barreled in from 10 metres to score the try, making it
After Phorn Bophan missed the conversion, the Laotians took the
kickoff, but were unable to pierce the Cambodian defence, as Bleriot
and flanker Ut Vuthy instigated some fierce tackling.
Cambodia capped off the day's scoring with two minutes to play, as
halfback Pich Ratana, who had come on to replace Phorn Bophan moments
earlier, found a gap near the touchline and scampered in from 12-
metres, giving the Koupreys their final 24-8 advantage.
Cambodia coach Peter Maley was effusive in his praise for the play of
Bleriot and 20-year-old Phorn Bophan.
"Francois was just fantastic today," said Maley. "He ran our backline
well, had some good runs, and his tackling was awesome. Bophan also
did a great job. He made a few mistakes, like dropping that kick
early on, but he recovered and played well."
Maley felt his team was much more effective than in the previous match
"Our defending was excellent again today, but we also passed and
supported well," said Maley. "Our backs really stepped up."
Laos coach Ian Melhuish also praised the Cambodian effort. "Cambodia
had an excellent game today and we couldn't do much," he said.
"This is a great competition and I think it raises the skill levels
for both teams."
Although Cambodia gained the victory, Laos retains possession of the
Mekong Cup trophy for 2009 by virtue of their previous victory over
Cambodia in March. The two nations will meet again for another two
match series in 2010. The overall series stands at four wins for
Cambodia, three wins for Laos, and no draws.
"We respect them [Laos] a lot and I think they respect us too," stated
Chey Sophal. "We look forward to some hard matches with them again
In the curtain raiser earlier in the day, the Laos women defeated the
Cambodian women in a 10-a-side match, 15-5.
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