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GUAM SEVENS RECAP IN SINGAPORE

PRESS RELEASE – The Budweiser Guam Men’s Rugby Sevens team travelled to Singapore to play in the fourth Asian Rugby Sevens Series tournament for 2012.  This event also served as Asia’s qualifier with the top three teams winning the right to play in the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow in June 2013.

Guam was ranked 11th in the tournament as this was our first appearance at an Asian Sevens Series tournament this year and our pool included top ranked Hong Kong as well as the highly rated Philippines team.

Guam faced Asian Champions Hong Kong in the opening match of the tournament and were clearly over matched.  Hong Kong moved easily to a 24-0 lead at the half.  However, in the second half captain Paul Claros made a break on the half way line and fed Stephen Santos who raced in to score a try which Gerard Aguon converted.  However, this was to be Guam’s only score and Hong Kong tightened up their game and moved out to win 48-7.

Guam next faced the Philippines in their first game of the tournament.  Once again, Guam was outclassed and the Philippines headed to the break at 21-0.  In the second half, a yellow card saw the Philippines down to 6 men for a couple of minutes but this only slowed their progress.  They ended the game at 33-0.

In the Bowl Semi Final Guam faced Thailand who had been to all the Asian Sevens Series tournaments and enjoyed eight ranking coming in to Singapore.  In the opening seconds, Guam surprised Thailand with concerted pressure right from the kickoff.  Earl Pascual made a characteristic bullish charge towards the line but was held up short.  Paul Claros wrestled the ball free but was also stopped short.  Somehow, Pascual appeared again to take the ball over the line and score.  Thailand leveled the score but then gave up a penalty from the restart. Paul Eustaquio scored a try running through Thailand from the resulting tap.  Thailand once again bounced back to tie the score.  Guam continued to apply pressure and a drive from Paul Claros set up Pascual for his second try.  With all tries being converted, the score at the half was 21-14 to Guam. The Thai team came out in the second half recharged and soon tied up the match. They then moved on with two more tries to defeat Guam 35-21.

The disappointment against Thailand left Guam with a chance at redemption – the 11th / 12th place playoff against Indonesia.  Guam continued as they had started against Thailand a quick try to Paul Eustaquio.  A great spin move gave Gerard Aguon a break , after an offload to Paul Claros, the ball was in the hands of Stephen Santos to race away to score.

Indonesia were putting up a strong defense but when one of their players was red carded (sent off)  the gaps really opened up.  Santos scored from a move involving most of the Guam team from inside their half and then Paul Claros scored on a typical darting run from a tap penalty.  Eustaquio added to his tally with a solo run but Guam let down its guard a little and Indonesia scored their first points of the tournament.

The highlight of the tournament came two minutes from the end when Guam ran from their own  goal line.  Santos made a great break and then flipped a blind, over-the-shoulder pass to P J Calvo who raced the remaining 65 yards as though the match depended on this try.  With a spectacular dive, he scored under the posts to make the final score 40 – 5.

P J Calvo on the burst against Indonesia

Coach Willie Hetaraka was pleased with how the team developed throughout the tournament with young players  P J Calvo and Brian Ramiro playing well.   The team was led up front by veterans Rob Leon Guerrero, Earl Pascual, and Paul Claros assisted by Zeb Howser, Sixto Quintanilla and Sean Leon Guerrero. The backline was anchored by test veterans Billy Chennaux, Paul Eustaquio, Stephen Santos and Gerard Aguon.

Hetaraka noted that, while we had landed in a very tough pool, he was not disappointed.  “The players learn the most when they play the best” he said. He was especially pleased with the performance of the team as they developed through the tournament.  He emphasized that improvement will come with more exposure to these types of tournaments noting that the top three teams Guam played had all appeared in the first three Asian Sevens Series tournaments so came to Singapore as seasoned campaigners.

Captain Paul Claros was also pleased with the performance of the younger players.  The absence of a few international players through injury and study commitments had given the new boys the opportunity to step up and they did not disappoint.

Guam tournament results:

Day 1

Hong Kong 48 Guam 7 – Try Stephen Santos Conversion Gerard Aguon

Philippines 33 Guam 0

Thailand 35 Guam 21 – Tries Earl Pascual (2)  Paul Eustaquio Conversions Gerard Aguon (3)

Day 2

Guam 40 Indonesia 5 – Tries Stephen “Juice” Santos (2), Paul Eustaquio (2), Paul Claros and P J Calvo Conversions Gerard Aguon (5)

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