Guam Falls To China In A5N Rugby


Guam – Guam returned from the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Rugby Division 3 tournament disappointed at having lost the final 28-18 to China. Guam took an 18-5 lead into the half time break but were unable to maintain that lead in the face of a blustery wind and a brilliant individual performance by China’s top Rugby Sevens try scorer, Zhang Zhiqiang. Zhang mastered the conditions in the second half and scored three tries and kicked a drop goal to single handedly steer China past a valiant Guam team.

Guam applied pressure right from the start of the match, taking advantage of a strong wind to camp in Chinese territory. Chris Sgro kicked an early penalty and followed this with a converted try after a strong forward move. China responded with a bullocking try which went unconverted.

Another strong scrum saw John Arceo peel off and pass to Paul Estaquio who needed every ounce of his strength to bump off a determined Chnese defebder for the try. A great sideline conversion from Chris Sgro moved the score to 15 – 5.

A subsequent penalty took the lead out to 18 – 5 but then Guam had to dig very deep as the Chinese responded. China camped on Guam’s try line for the last five minutes of the half but resolute defense from Guam saw them hold out the strong Chinese charges and preserve the 18-5 lead at the break.

The story would be different in the second half. China started the second half strongly but missed an early penalty from in front. However, they Zhang soon found his rhythm and started peppering the Guam defense with soaring high balls followed up by the speedy Chinese outside backs.

China scored two quick tries from moves from the scrum which had improved considerably in the second half but it was a dropped goal from Zhang that tied the scores after fifteen minutes. The attacks continued and China added a further try to go into the last few minutes ahead by only 3 points.

Guam put in a huge effort in those final few minutes, attacking the Chinese line, but were unable to cross the line and, in the 78th minute, the Chinese fullback Gu Shuo broke away to score a final try and seal the win for China.

Guam coach Willie Hetaraka noted that the strong swirling winds in Jakarta had been decisive, saying, “It was a game of two halves with the wind, and China managed to play to the conditions better than we did. We did well in the first half but all credit to China. They exploited the conditions perfectly and made use of their size to score more points with the wind at their backs than we did.”

“We are taking a lot from today’s performance. We go back to Guam with our heads held high and knowing that we belong in this division and are closing the gap. Today, Guam the 87th ranked union in the world faced China, who are ranked 66th and we made a good account of ourselves”, added Hetaraka.

Guam Rugby Union President Stephen Grantham was at the match and noted “These young men played their hearts out for Guam in this match. They were gutted as they came off the field and it was clear that they had put everything they had into this game. We have once again made it clear to our opposition that they need to respect Guam. We are here to stay and will bring back more of the same next year.”

Information from a press release.