The UAE will take on Thailand for the right to earn a spot back in Division I of the Asia Rugby Championship on Saturday after dishing out a gargantuan 82-7 pasting to minnows Guam on Wednesday.
Apollo Perelini’s side sauntered to a huge win in Hua Hin – a refreshing return to international action having missed out on the ARC last year due to an internal decision.
The UAE, ranked 70th in World Rugby’s hierarchy, a place below Guam (69th), made light work of their opponents, with Dubai Exiles No8 Jaen Botes and Dubai Hurricanes centre Sakiusa Naisau both crossing for hat-tricks.
It was a tight first 40 minutes saw the UAE taking a slender 19-7 lead into the break thanks to two tries from Botes, with Brian Ramiro dotting down for Guam’s only score of the match.
In the second half the UAE ran away with the match, scoring nine converted tries with Botes and Naisau both securing hat-tricks. Kinivilame Natuna also crossed for two tries while there was one each for Exiles duo Ed Armitage and Matt Mills, as well as Jebel Ali Dragons’ full-back Matt Richards and a score on his record-extending 26th UAE cap for the recalled and out of retirement Chris Jones-Griffiths.
Hosts Thailand beat Kazakhstan 38-20 in the second game of the day to set up a final with the UAE.
The winner of the match will gain promotion to Division I, taking a step closer to the top echelon of rugby in Asia, as well as also taking a step towards the – however unlikely – Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process.
Thailand responded to the UAE result with an impressive win of their own against Kazakhstan.
Despite conceding the first try to Stanislav Paceyev, tries from Wuttikorn Kaewkhiao, Kin Laksanasompong (2) and Pooreepong Wachirabunjong gave them a 28-10 lead at the break.
Kazakhstan hit back with three tries of their own from Daulet Akymbekov, Abdrakhman Nazhibayev and Dastan Suleimenov to make things interesting, but a fifth Thailand try from Panupong Puangpun secured a 38-20 win for the hosts.
The win will impact Thailand’s World Rugby rankings with Kazakhstan sitting 14 places above them in 62nd before the match.
12:30 Guam v Kazakhstan
14:15 UAE v Thailand
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