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Phuket: Thailand Stars rugby team play thrilling match with Latin American Heat

RUGBY League: Thailand Stars and Latin America Heat played out a thrilling 16 all draw in their historic first ever international.


By Press Release

Tuesday 17 June 2014, 03:02PM


The small but enthusiastic crowd braved the cool and wet conditions at Windsor Sports Complex to cheer on the two new Rugby League nations.

Thailand were the first to score with a shift to the right into space in which centre Micky Pannao stepped back inside a couple of defenders to plant the ball down to the delight of his team mates. Tyler Chant converted for a 6-0 lead to the Stars.

Latin America responded next when hooker Daniel Navarro scored from dummy half after a quick play the ball. The goal was converted by Marco Pereira.

Right on quarter time Sebastian Maya Jiminez went over with a powerful try for the Heat. The conversion was unsuccessful and the Latin Americans went into the first break leading 10-6.

As the second quarter got underway the heavens opened with a torrential downpour that made handling difficult for both teams resulting in many turnovers. However, Thailand had the better of the field position and was rewarded with back rower Willie Savanh crashing over just a few minutes before half time. Chant converted with Thailand taking a 12-10 lead into the break.

With the heavy rain continuing in the second half, the match became a war of attrition between the two forward packs and neither was giving an inch. The Stars were looking dangerous when they shifted the ball behind their decoy runners creating overlaps but the final passes were executed poorly resulting in lost opportunities.

Stars five eight Rhys Tucker wasn't to be denied when he burrowed his way over from dummy half in the 56th minute. Benji Heath missed the crucial conversion from wide out and the Stars went into the final break leading 16-10.

Despite having less possession the Stars had kept the Heat scoreless for two consecutive quarters and only had to complete their sets to win the game. With the ball resembling a cake of soap this was always going to be a difficult task and the Latinos were like Piranhas in the Amazon feeding off the Stars' errors.

With some good offloads the Heat found some space on the left which saw Luis Guillermo Fhon score in the corner. Navarro's conversion edged it's way towards the posts and on it's final descending revolution collided with the black dot on the crossbar and skidded over which whipped the Heat supporters into a frenzy like it was Carnivale in Rio.

16 all with 15 minutes remaining. Latin Heat could smell their first ever victory and they had all the momentum. The Stars could not get out of their own half and the Heat kept driving towards the line in particular from their lock Jaden Laing who was having a huge game.

With six minutes remaining the Heat were given a penalty just to the left of the posts and replacement kicker Jonathan Espinoza could have thrown the ball over. Instead he steered the ball into the left upright into the arms of a Stars player who then duly spilled the ball when crunched in the tackle.

The pressure continued from the Heat but the Stars refused to give in and with lungs burning they put their breathless bodies on the line for each other and kept the Heat out.

With time almost up the Stars gave it one lost shot and centre Dangmo Chimpla who was on debut for Thailand pulled off a remarkable 40/20 kick which gave the Stars one last set. They went awfully close to scoring but couldn't get over the line. With 11 seconds remaining the ball was passed to Chimpla for a field goal attempt but the ball was spilled and the siren sounded.

Full time and the spoils were shared in what was a fair result.

Latin America's Laing was the player of the match and was well supported by Navarro and Espinoza. Thailand's best were Chimpla, Narong Khamluechai, Dylan Baxter and captain Charlie Jones who battled on courageously with a serious shoulder injury.

The match may not have been the best spectacle due to the conditions but both teams were extremely brave, played with plenty of passion and pride which was duly noted by the crowd with a standing ovation to the players as they left the field.

LATIN AMERICA 16 (D. Navarro, S. Moya Jiminez, L. Guillermo Fhon tries; M. Pereira and D. Navarro goals) drew with THAILAND 16 (M. Pannao, W.Savanh, R.Tucker tries; T.Chant 2 goals). Played at Windsor Sports Complex, Sydney. Crowd: 350. Referee: Mike Smail (New Zealand). Sideline Officials: Glenn Reece and Peter Anton (Australia).  

 

 

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