THE PHILIPPINE Volcanoes failed to sustain a strong start and absorbed a 20-59 setback to Hong Kong in their HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five competition clash Saturday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Trailing 10-14 at halftime, the Volcanoes wilted in the second half as Hong Kong relentlessly put the home side’s defense under pressure to secure their second win in the tournament.
While Hong Kong boosted its chances to finish second behind Japan in the group, the Volcanoes are in danger of getting relegated back to Division 1 with matches against South Korea next week and the UAE on May 18.
Humbled by Japan, 0-121, two weeks ago, the Volcanoes hardly looked daunted against a rock-solid Hong Kong side—an established rugby country in the continent.
Seeking their first top-flight victory, the Volcanoes got off to a dream start when winger Patrice Olivier scored the first try of the game off a chip kick from David Fenney before Alexander Aronson converted the extra point.
The game turned just before halftime when the Volcanoes were called for an offside penalty, overruling what would have been a breakaway try from Joseph Matthews. What could have been a 10-point advantage turned into a four-point deficit at the break and the Volcanoes never recovered from there.
Michael Letts scored the Philippines’ second try in the second half, but it proved to be little consolation as Hong Kong had already wrapped up the result.
“The scoreline flattered us in the end,” said Hong Kong head coach Leigh Jones. “I don’t think they (Volcanoes) deserved to shift 50 points. But I’m proud of my guys. They adapted to the conditions and came out in the second half fighting. “