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Singapore trounce Malaysia to set up final clash with South Korea


Singapore's Rugby team has successfully fought for their place in the final of the Asian Rugby Football Union. (Photo: SSC)
 
The last time that Singapore and Malaysia met on the rugby field, it resulted in a 25-23 win in Singapore’s favour.
 
This led to a cautious optimism among many for a similarly positive result when the two sides again clashed at the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Division 1 in Incheon, South Korea on 28 May. But the result was beyond what anyone dared hope for. Singapore trounced their rivals from across the Causeway 52-17.
 
“I don’t think anyone had any expectation that we would have such a huge difference score-wise,” said Des Thornton, the team’s coach. Thornton joined the Singapore Rugby Union in September 2010 and was instrumental in the team’s progress.
 
Over the phone the Australian, who boasts 40 years coaching experience, spoke about what made that crucial difference. “We did a lot analysis going into the match trying to come up with ways to nullify their strengths and make use of their weaknesses,” he related.
 
Their initial strategy was to adopt a more cautious approach and wait for cracks to appear in their opponents’ defence, a style they abandoned in the second half. This move paid off and the team was then able to dominate with their forwards and convert their opportunities into points.
 
Defeating Malaysia has put the team squarely in the finals, where they will have to contend with a strong South Korean team. Thornton, although confident that this team will impress, recognises that they will be going in as the underdogs. “We know that South Korea can play some tough rugby when they need to. No one’s expecting us to get a million points here,” he said with a laugh.
 
He added, “The boys will have to play harder than they’ve played before. We can’t have the same style so we’ve been working hard on something new.”

Thornton and the team will find out if their preparations have paid off on 4 June when they clash in the final against South Korea.