Sports: Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines Volcano qualify for Sevens World Cup 2013

The Philippine Volcanoes celebrate their third place finish at the Singapore Sevens. The win also meant that they qualify for the 2013 World Cup in Moscow. Photo from Sean Moore

Japan came from behind to beat Asian rugby rivals Hong Kong 14-12 in the Cup final of the HSBC Asian Sevens on Saturday at the Padang.

Both finalists earn automatic qualification to the World Cup in Moscow next year.

They will be joined by the Philippines, who beat South Korea 22-19 in the bronze medal play-off to also earn a berth at the World Cup.

Hong Kong had just wrested the Asian title from Japan earlier last month at the Mumbai Sevens final.

Volcanoes qualify for 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens

The Philippine Volcanoes made history on Saturday, defeating South Korea 22-19 for the bronze medal at the Singapore Sevens to clinch the final ticket to the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.

"It is just fantastic that we are going to the World Cup. This is the first time that the Philippines will be playing in a World Cup and it is huge feat for us," said team captain Harry Morris.

Singapore vs Japan during the HSBC Asian Sevens. Japan's Lote Tuqiri (center) evads a tackle by a Singaporean player during the HSBC Asian Sevens qualifiers held on Nov 2, 2012. Singapore lost both its games today, first going down 5-19 to China in the Plate semi-final, then 12-40 to Malaysia in the 7th/8th play-off. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

"The third/fourth match was definitely closer than I wanted it to be. I give credit to the players for doing this for the nation," said Coach Al Caravelli. The American coach was the former coach of the US National Sevens Rugby Team before being tapped to head the Volcanoes in August.

Key tries for Gaz Holgate, Matt Saunders, and Andrew Wolff, along with a conversion by Holgate were enough to push the Philippines ahead of South Korea for the victory. The Volcanoes were up big, 22-7, in the first half before the South Koreans tried to stage a comeback in the second half. Their two tries were not enough to overcome the Philippine lead, though, as the Volcanoes took home the final spot in the 2013 World Cup.

"The match against Korea was exactly what you want from any game with that much on the line. Now we need to lift our levels further. We don't just want to be a number in Moscow; we'd like to make the Philippines and Asia proud of us," added Caravelli.

The Philippine squad started their campaign strong on Friday with a 33-0 domination of Guam. The team then failed to overcome Asian powerhouse Hong Kong in its second match, 29-12, to end up second in the pool A. The second-place finish in the pool stage led to a match up against China, the top ranked team in Pool C. The team squeezed through a tough Chinese squad, 14-7, to book a semifinals against regional leader Japan.

The Volcanoes started Saturday with a loss to Japan, 17-10, in the semifinal match. With only three spots up for grabs for the World Cup in Moscow next year, the Philippines set up a showdown for the final spot against the tough South Korean squad.

Fighting through

MAKING HISTORY. The Philippine Volcanoes are headed to the 2013 Rugby World Cup 7s after defeating South Korea at the HSBC Asian 7s series and snagging third place. Photo by Bob Guerrero.

Ranked 6th in the beginning of the competition, the Philippines started with a 33-0 victory against Guam before they were humbled by top-ranked Hong Kong 29-12.

The Volcanoes then faced China in the quarterfinals. After a nail-biting 14-7 win, the Philippines met Asian Rugby powerhouse Japan in the semi-finals and conceded a 7-17 defeat.

In their match against South Korea for third place, the Philippines needed a victory to secure a slot to the World Cup. The Volcanoes were leading 17-7 at halftime, before South Korea entered the second half with renewed determination.

South Korea clawed their way back up but the Volcanoes held strong, finishing with a close 22-19 victory.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens will be held in Moscow, Russia in June 2013.

GMA News, Straight Times, 

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