Volcanoes erupt in historic win
Words by The Total Fitness
Photos by Mark Cristino
THE PHILIPPINE VOLCANOES DELIVERED ONE BOOMING ERUPTION LAST APRIL, AS THEY WALLOPED SRI LANKA, THE HIGHEST-RANKED TEAM IN THE TOURNAMENT, 28-18, in the championship match of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division 1 tournament at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Volcanoes ramped up their momentum behind Oli Saunders’ three penalty kicks in the first half for a 9-0 lead. Half an hour into the match, team captain Michael Letts blitzed through the vaunted Sri Lankan defense to reach in for the first Philippine try. Bolstered by a good kick, the Philippines’ lead zoomed to 16-0.
A mere three minutes later, the Volcanoes erupted with a Joe Matthews shot for an inspiring (for the hometown crowd) 23-0 lead with seven minutes left in the half. But just before the halftime whistle blew, Sri Lanka got in a penalty kick to finally put themselves on the board, 23-3.
Bolstered by their first points, the Sri Lankan offense intensified, scoring a try eight minutes into the second half to move up to 23-8. The Sri Lankans scored once again in the 18th minute to close the gap at 23-15. They then scored another penalty kick in the 26th minute to dramatically inch closer, 23-18—creating a nail-biter of a second half.
Fortunately for the Filipinos, Justin Coveney broke through the Sri Lankan defense to give the Volcanoes a more comfortable margin, 28-18, in the 31st minute. It was enough to derail the furious Sri Lankan onslaught. From then on, the Sri Lankans never got the chance to catch up as the Philippine defense foiled their repeated attempts to score. In the end, Sri Lanka had more tackles with 57, most of them taking place in the second half. The Philippines, on the other hand, had 50. Still, the 28-18 final scor e told the whole story. And it was a most improbable “against all odds” type of story—but one that any proud Filipino will always be inspired to tell and retell.