Dragons fire in front of home fans

A ten try spectacular was played out in the first Global Rapid Rugby match in Singapore with the Asia Pacific Dragons pouncing early and never headed as they ran out 15 point winners over the South China Tigers.

Once again, Rapid Rugby lived up to its name, with supporters hardly having time to settle into their seats before both sides had a try on the scoreboard.

The Asia Pacific Dragons were the first to strike when scrumhalf Rowan Gouws was put through by a lovely ball from star winger Mitchell Scott after just three minutes had expired. It was the perfect start to the game for the home side who had been good in patches in their opening two games but were yet to put together a full 70-minute performance.

SINGAPORE – APRIL 28: Rowan Gouws of Asia Pacific Dragons runs the ball and scores a try during the Global Rapid Rugby match between the South China Tigers and Asia Pacific Dragons at Queenstown Stadium on April 28, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

The response from the South China Tigers, however, was as swift as it was impressive. A turnover at the breakdown giving the Tigers the ball back deep in their attacking zone, and with a couple of deft little passes number 8 Josh Hrstich found an opening and scored next to the posts.

Not to be outdone, the Dragons regrouped and produced a three-try burst in just ten minutes that saw them open up a 17 point advantage. Kali Hala, Stacey Ili and Joketani Koroi doing the damage for the home side, however, they could have been further in front had they managed more than just one of the conversion attempts.

The Dragons then found themselves a man down with 8 minutes remaining in the half when Ropate Rinakama was shown yellow for collapsing a Tigers maul close to the try line. The referee having no hesitation in giving the big prop his marching orders and rubbing salt in the wound by awarding a penalty try. The Tigers couldn’t make any further gains despite their numerical advantage, ending the half within touching distance, but still trailing 24-14.

The second stanza started as the first finished with another penalty try given. This time it was the South China Tigers penalised for an infringement in the scrum, fortunately for the visitors no yellow card was forthcoming.

Keen to make up for their blunder, the Tigers rumbled their way downfield and two minutes later closed the gap again to 10 points thanks to Faizal Solomona. That would be as close as the visitors would get, however, as the Asia Pacific Dragons finished the stronger of the two sides for the second week in a row.

A penalty goal and then a great running try finished by Zac Harrison Jones extended the Dragons lead to 20 as full time approached.

But if there is one thing that the Rapid Rugby Showcase has highlighted in its five matches to date is that points are on offer right up to the final hooter and beyond.

While a win was out of their grasp, a bonus point still loomed large for the Tigers if they were able to score their fourth try of the game. With the ball in their possession as time expired the visitors weren’t going to die wondering and threw caution to the wind as forward Luke Van Der Smit fired a cross-field bullet pass to the waiting Jack Neville on the wing who found the try line and locked up the valuable bonus point.

SINGAPORE – April 28: Luke Van Der Smit of South China Tigers runs the ball during the Global Rapid Rugby match between the South China Tigers and Asia Pacific Dragons at Queenstown Stadium on April 28, 2019, in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

The Dragons too were able to add a bonus point to their win, however, that all important point secured by the Tigers sees them remain second on the Asia Showcase Series ladder.

View the Global Rapid Rugby Asia Showcase Ladder

Rapid Rugby action continues in Asia next week when the Dragons and Western Force meet in Singapore on Sunday, 5 May 2019.

Asia Pacific Dragons 41 – 26 South China Tigers

Asia Pacific Dragons

Starting XV: 1.Haamea AHIO, 2.Sekonaia POLE, 3.Ropate RINAKAMA, 4.Louis Johannes CONRADIE, 5.Joketani KOROI, 6.Michael MCKEE, 7.Fotu LOKOTUI, 8.Nili LATU, 9.Rowan GOUWS, 21.Latiume FOSITA, 10.Mitchell SCOTT, 12.Stacey ILI (C), 13.Asaeli TIKOIROTUMA, 23.Junior LALOIFI, 15.Kali HALA

Reserves: 16.Michael LEA, 17.Taniela KOROI, 18.Latu TALAKAI, 24.Naulia DAWAI, 20.Irwin FINAU, 22.Kurt HAMMER 11.Sireli BOBO, 14.Zac HARRISON JONES

South China Tigers

Starting XV: 1.Benjamin HIGGINS, 2.Dayne JANS, 3.Tau KOLOMATANGI, 4.Fin FIELD, 5.Craig LODGE, 6.James SAWYER, 7.Josh DOWSING, 8.Josh HRSTICH, 9.Liam SLATEM (C), 10.Glyn HUGHES, 11.Conor HARTLEY, 12.Matthew ROSSLEE, 13.Lewis WARNER, 14.Samisoni NASAGAVESI, 15.Nathan DE THIERRY

Reserves: 16.Alexander POST, 17.Adam FULLGRABE, 18.Faisal SOLOMONA PENESA, 19.Kyle SULLIVAN, 20.Luke VAN DER SMIT, 21.Bryn PHILLIPS, 22.Ben AXTEN-BURRETT, 23.Jack NEVILLEM

Match Officials

Referee: Richard KELLY,  AR1: Matthew RODDEN,  AR2: Charlie BROWN, TMO: Aaron LITTLEWOODF

First Half
3:36R.Gouws (APD)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 5[5 – 0]
4:24K.Hala (APD)ConversionAsia Pacific Dragons by 7[7 – 0]
5:25J.Hrstich (SCT)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 2[7 – 5]
6:16G.Hughes (SCT)ConversionTied[7 – 7]
11:30K.Hala (APD)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 5[12 – 7]
12:36K.Hala (APD)ConversionAsia Pacific Dragons by 7[14 – 7]
19:28S.Ili (APD)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 12[19 – 7]
22:42J.Koroi (APD)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 17[24 – 7]
26:42Team (SCT)Penalty TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 10[24 – 14]
Second Half
8:46Team (APD)Penalty TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 17[31 – 14]
10:42F.Solomona (SCT)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 12[31 – 19]
11:55G.Hughes (SCT)ConversionAsia Pacific Dragons by 10[31 – 21]
26:54L.Fosita (APD)Penalty GoalAsia Pacific Dragons by 13[34 – 21]
31:31Z.Harrison (APD)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 18[39 – 21]
32:38L.Fosita (APD)ConversionAsia Pacific Dragons by 20[41 – 21]
35:32J.Neville (SCT)TryAsia Pacific Dragons by 15[41 – 26]

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