Uzbekistan wins home regional in A5N
By Sean Moore
Uzbekistan cruised past Kyrgyzstan 31-12 at the Stadium Yoshlik in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Saturday to win their regional tournament on the first occasion it has hosted the HSBC Asian Five Nations.
After losing their opening match to Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, Mongolia rebounded to overcome Uzbekistan B 36-12 for a third place finish in the HSBC Asian Five Nations regional tournament in Uzbekistan.
Fitting for a regional rivalry, the game between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan was a tense affair with two red cards and a yellow card served out by referee Jimmy Toda from Japan. Bragging rights were well and truly on the line, particularly as the two teams drew 15-15 in last year's regional tournament played in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan proved the better side today with fly half Stanislav Krechunskil enjoying a fine day with two tries, one conversion and a strong tactical kicking performance that kept the visitors on the back foot for much of the match. Krechunskil scored the first try just five minutes into the match with the conversion coming from full back Timur Birkjanov.
Kyrgyzstan replied 11 minutes later after exerting tremendous pressure on the Uzbekistan defence as the visitors perched on the five-metre line for eight minutes. The try came through centre Alexsandr Zolotukhim, who added a fourth try to his hat trick in Wednesday’s opening match against Mongolia.
Undaunted, Uzbekistan soon found its groove and in particular strengthened its scrum with some tactical front row substitutions giving it more stability and resulting in better ball with which they began to exert their will on the match.
In the 22nd minute, flanker Mixail Zolotov scored Uzbekistan’s second try of the half, which was again converted by Birkjanov to bring the score at half time 14-7.
Temperatures flared with a minute left to go in the half when referee Toda showed the red card to Uzbekistan number 8 Artem Izmailov and Kyrgyzstan flanker Faruh Zaitov to reduce both sides to 14 men for the remainder of the match.
Atapin opens second-half scoring
Despite the increased space on the pitch, the second half remained a tight affair until the 56th minute when Kyrgyzstan lock Oleg Atapin broke through from in close to edge the visitors closer but a missed conversion left the score at 14-12.
As quickly as Kyrgyzstan were back in striking distance, Uzbekistan fly half Krechunskil scored his second try, which increased his side’s lead to 19-12. Having exhausted all of their substitutions, Kyrgyzstan was forced to play the last 13 minutes with only 13 players after star centre Zolotukhim was forced from the field with a head injury.
In the 66th minute, the man advantage told true as Uzbekistan sealed victory with a try to lock Taras Kosimbarov. Centre Timur Jogin then added the icing on the cake in the 79th minute with a fine try that was converted to bring the final score to 31-12 to Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan ended the tournament ranked the top seed in the regional pairing with Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia in second and third, with Jordan likely to move into this regional grouping in 2010.
The Tashkent Regional is the penultimate tournament in the 2009 HSBC Asian Five Nations Series. Still ahead is the Division III tournament in Manila (match days 1 and 4 July) between Philippines, Guam, Iran and Indonesia.
Stanislav Krechunskil (2), Mixail Zolotov, Taras Kosimbarov, Timur Jogin
Conversion: Timur Birkjanov (2), Stanislav Krechunskil
Tries: Alexsandr Zolotukhim, Oleg Atapin
Conversion: Ayazbek Artambekov