UAE finish with a flourish at Asia U20 Sevens Series

Matt Jones 1/08/2016
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Jerry Kilicanasau (l) against Thailand.

The youngsters finished on a winning note after two opening defeats on the second day of the competition in Johor.

Apollo Perelini’s youngsters were beaten 45-5 in Sunday’s final Pool B game against a rampant Sri Lanka.

Al Ain Amblers’ wizard Jerry Kilicanasau actually opened the scoring after three minutes to give the UAE the perfect start, but that was as good as it got as their opponents went on to score 45 unanswered points.

Defeat put them into the second tier Plate competition and the UAE narrowly missed out on the opportunity to fight for a fifth place finish as they were downed 21-17 by Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals.

The men from the Emirates fought back bravely from a 14-0 half time deficit. Ben Van Rooyen halved the deficit before Hao-wei Chang put Taipei 21-7 up. Kilicanasau and Ryno De Bruyn crossed late on but Taipei held on.

De Bruyn scored again in their final game with Thailand, his conversion of his own try the difference as the UAE signed off on a winning note.

“The boys really pulled through in the last game to beat Thailand,” said UAE skipper Devante Steele.

“We managed to finish on a high and how Apollo wanted us to,” added team-mate Kilicanasau.

“We finished seventh which wasn’t so bad and we are all proud and happy individually and as a team for the good, hard work we did. We’ll have some time to recover now and then we look forward to Hong Kong.”

The second leg of the series, in Hong Kong, takes place over the weekend of August 12-13.

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UAE impress on first day of Asia U20 Sevens

Matt Jones 30/07/2016
UAE U-20s shine at Asia Rugby Sevens Series

Apollo Perelini’s young charges beat Thailand 10-5 to kick off proceedings in Pool B in Johor on Malaysia’s south coast.

They suffered a set back in their second match as they were trounced by Asian heavyweights Japan, suffering a 38-0 defeat.

However, the UAE bounced back in style in their final game of the day, earning a 21-5 victory over the Philippines.

That will set up the youngsters nicely for tomorrow’s final pool match against Sri Lanka. Win that and the UAE will be guaranteed a place in the upper tier Cup knockout stages, which will put the UAE in a superior position to earn a top six finish overall from the two legs of the series.

The second will be played in Hong Kong later in the year.

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Steele confident ahead of Asia U-20 Sevens Series

Matt Jones 30/07/2016
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Man of Steele: The UAE captain is pumped ahead of meetings with Thailand, Japan and the Philippines in Malaysia.

Captain Devante Steele says he is honoured to lead the UAE and expects his troops to “rise to the challenge” at the opening leg of the Asia Rugby Under 20 Sevens Series in Malaysia on Saturday.

Apollo Perelini’s side face a stern test in Johor, on the country’s south coast, having finished rock bottom in the series a year ago.

An opening win against Sri Lanka in Hong Kong 12 months ago was followed by five consecutive defeats to Malaysia, China, the hosts and Thailand, with a 24-21 defeat to Kazakhstan in the seventh/eighth-place game leaving the UAE in last place on the second leg of the ARSS and overall.

The only way is up though for the UAE, and Steele is confident.

“We are switched on and ready to go, I feel confident in the boys and all the hard work that has been put in,” said the Al Ain Amblers teenager. “There will always be the pregame nerves and jitters but when it comes down to it we just need to stick to our game. I know the boys will go hard to show their determination and it should be a good tournament for the team.”

The UAE are certainly up against it in Pool B where they lock horns with the continent’s supreme powerhouse in Japan.

They open up against Thailand on Saturday and also take on the Philippines before closing the pool stages against Sri Lanka on Sunday. The tournament then shifts to the knockout stages and the Plate and Cup competitions.

Steele was part of the UAE team at last year’s series and the 19-year-old American has gone on to represent his adopted nation at senior sevens level this year, while also featuring heavily for Amblers in the UAE Premiership and West Asia Championship.

He will be one of 10 Amblers’ players that make up Perelini’s 12-man squad and believes the key is not being too daunted and remaining focused.

“Just being able to play again and represent the UAE, the feeling is unbelievable, and I am honoured and humbled to be the captain of this team,” said the former Manor Hall International School pupil. “I am pretty pumped and so were the boys at our last training session before the tournament. I just really want to try and keep the boys in the games and just try to focus on one game at a time.

“We have Thailand first and my thoughts on them are that they are going to have a lot of speed and some good steppers, but we want to play our game and keep level heads and stay positive.

“I know we have Japan later in the day but that game will come. For now we focus game by game. The challenge is there, we just need to rise to it and take it on.”

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