Russia survive scare to make repechage

(RUGBY WORLD CUP) Saturday 24 May 2014
 
Russia survive scare to make repechage
Russia were pushed all the way by Germany in Saturday's RWC 2015 European qualifier. Photo: Kessler-Sportfotografie

Russia are through to the Rugby World Cup 2015 repechage after a thrilling 31-20 win over Germany in Saturday’s European qualifier in Hamburg.

Hosts Germany appeared on course to pull off a major shock as they led the Bears by three points with a few minutes to go.

But late tries from fly half Yury Kushnarev and replacement hooker Evgeny Matveev spared Russia from defeat and they will now play the runner-up from the Africa regional qualifying process.

Two unanswered tries inside the first quarter from winger Vladimir Ostroushko and prop Andrey Igretsov put Russia in command at 10-0 up before Germany clawed three points back in the 27th minute through the boot of fly half Christopher Hilsenbeck.

An eventful third quarter began with Russia stretching their lead after Ostroushko touched down for the second time in the match and Yushnarev converted.

Germany responded through scrum half Sean Armstrong and Hilsenbeck added the extras, and a minute later Russia were placed even further on the back foot when prop Grigory Tsnobiladze was sent to the sin-bin.

During that 10-minute period Germany took the lead after Hilsenbeck turned the five points from Timo Vollenkemper’s try into seven and added a penalty for good measure.

By then, though, Germany were down to 14 men too, after experienced front-row replacement Alexander Widiker was shown a yellow card less than a minute after coming onto the field of play.

Unlike Germany, Russia were unable to make their numerical advantage count and they remained three points adrift with the clock ticking down. But, from nowhere, the Bears summoned up two scores to keep their Rugby World Cup dream alive.

Jones bades farewell

It was a fitting way for outgoing Russia head coach Kingsley Jones to sign off after three-and-a-half years in charge.

The former Wales captain took on the head coach role in December 2011 and finished with a record of 11 wins and 15 defeats.

While the potential prospect of joining England, Australia, Wales and the Oceania 1 qualifier in Pool A at RWC 2015 was an appealing one for Jones increased family commitments meant he felt the time was right to hand over duties to assistant Raphael Saint-Andre, brother of current France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

“It's with a heavy heart I leave the Rugby Union Russia at this time, a big part of me would love to lead the team to their second Rugby World Cup and, of course, to potentially play Wales at the Millennium Stadium. But the time away from the UK from now until RWC 2015 is going to be around 40 weeks and my personal circumstances have changed considerably, having three children under five years old,” Jones said.

“I have really enjoyed my time with the national team; it’s been both a great coaching and life experience.”

Korea clinch third in Asia

Meanwhile, Korea beat Philippines 52-22 in Laguna to claim third place in the Asian 5 Nations 2014 Top 5 and qualify for next year’s revamped elite three-team competition alongside Japan and Hong Kong.

Winger Jeong Yeon Sik (2), Jang Seong Min and Kim Nam Uk scored first-half tries, with fly half Oh Youn Hyung converting all four to make it 28-15 to Korea at the break.

In reply, Philippines captain OIiver Saunders converted his own try and kicked a penalty either side of a try from full back Michael Letts.

Number 8 Kim Hyun Soo added to Korea’s lead shortly after the re-start and the result was put beyond any doubt when Kim Nam Uk, with his second, followed him over the line.

Winger Kim Gwong Min and replacement Shin Ki Cheol got their names on the scoresheet late on as Korea attacked at will, while the Philippines’ scoring in the final 40 came from centre Matt Saunders’ converted try.

Malaysia meanwhile won the Division II title at the third attempt in Doha on Friday evening after beating hosts Qatar 31-22.