Nicknamed the Junior Volcanoes, the First Pacific Philippine National U19 Rugby Team players rallied together at 14 points to 0 in the opening half and fought their way back to record a third place finish in the 2018 U19 Division 1 Asia Rugby Championships on December 14, 2018 at the Bang Bon Stadium in Bang Bon District, Bangkok, Thailand. This is the best result of the team backed by MVP Sports Foundation in the last five years.
Mathew Imperial Davie and Marco Wijangco Tan strongly defended for the Junior Volcanoes. It had taken the Philippine team 20 minutes to break the Chinese barrier to score their first points.
The Volcanoes found themselves deep in Chinese territory when Tom Canon Coleman provided a strong ball carry to set up James Halasan Ryan for the first five pointer with Owen Gasgonia Wakeham securing the extra two points. From here, the Volcanoes started their comeback.
Not long after, a clever kick from Davie had Wakeham scoop up the loose ball, beating two defenders and scoring another 5 points for the Volcanoes. After 31 minutes, Wakeham had kicked the extra two points and the Volcanoes found themselves back in the match at 14-14 at halftime.
“It was a spirited comeback in the first half,” Philippine Rugby general manager Jake Letts said. “They showed patience and composure. It’s never easy coming back from two tries down. However, credit to the team; they held strong for the first 35 minutes.”
The Junior Volcanoes did not stop there. After a brilliant set piece, the early second half saw Dean Dela Beeton scream onto a perfectly passed long ball from Davie and found the corner for the Philippines to take the lead for the first time after 40 minutes.
Five minutes later, Makati Chief Reymarc Bustillo was in again for the Volcanoes. The Philippines extended their lead to 26 to 14.
China did not stop there, as well. The team scored a brilliant try out wide closing the gap to 7 points with still 20 minutes remaining.
In order to take the win, the Volcanoes had to hold strong. Off a set piece penalty, it was Craig Bayer Wallace who fought for every inch.
Wallace burst through the Chinese pack to take the Volcanoes to 31 points and Wakeham once again securing the extra two points. With time running out, this was enough for the Volcanoes to bag the win 33 to 19 and secure third place in 2018.
“A good result, the best result we have had since 2014 so that’s another positive for 2018,” Letts declared. “It’s been a tremendous year. (I’m) very happy they finished here on a win.”
Philippine Rugby ends their 2018 international calendar with another successful campaign, looking towards another big 2019 season. With Rugby Sevens in the SEA Games, earning qualification into the World Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong in April and Olympic Qualifications in November 2018, the Volcanoes look to set for another competitive calendar for 2019.