India triumph in A5N Division III final
India narrowly defeated Guam in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division III final, giving them at the very least an immediate return to Division II in 2013.
Having been relegated from Division II in 2011, India beat neighbours Pakistan in their semi final two days ago before their narrow 18-16 victory against Guam in the final.
But the result also keeps their dreams of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England alive.
With the Division II and III competitions this week doubling up as the latest stage of the Asian qualification process for the next RWC, India now await a play-off with either Malaysia or Thailand, who compete in the final of Division II.
The winner of that match will be promoted to Division I in 2013 and continue in the qualification process, which could see India climb two divisions in one year, whilst the dream will end for the remaining teams.
In a closely fought final, India opened up an early 15-point lead in the first 20 minutes, scoring one penalty try converted by Sethna Rohaan, and a second try from Vikas Kathri.
Gerard Aguon kicked two penalties for Guam, but Rohaan managed the same for India to give them an 18-6 lead at half time.
Guam scored their only try of the match through Paul Eustaqio as they scored 10 unanswered second half points, but it was not enough to prevent India's victory.
“We got the start we wanted but we lost our way in the second half," said a relieved India captain Nasser Hussain.
"Full credit to Guam they never gave up and it went all the way down to the wire. We were a bit lucky that we managed to get the bumper points we needed early on.
"But for now, we are just excited that we have a chance to at least dream of getting to the Rugby World Cup. We were in Division II last season so we are confident of our chances in the play-off against tomorrow’s winner.”
Guam coach Willie Heteraka added: “We want to thank HSBC and the IRB for giving us this opportunity to shoot for the Rugby World Cup, it is every player’s dream and unfortunately ours didn’t quite come true today."
In the third place play-off in Division III, Indonesia beat Pakistan 13-7 thanks to tries from Askar and captain Daniel Nugroho.