Korea ensured the Asia Rugby Championship 2018 title race will go down to their final day meeting with Hong Kong after running out 67-12 winners in an entertaining match with Malaysia in Incheon on Saturday.
The victory lifts Korea back to the top of the standings with 10 points from three matches, one more than Hong Kong who still have two matches to play.
With the winner of the Top 3 facing the Cook Islands in a home-and-away Asia/Oceania play-off for the right to enter the Rugby World Cup 2019 global repechage tournament, Korea knew victory was a must after losing to Hong Kong last weekend.
Korea got off to a flying start as Jang Seong Min returned to the starting XV and opened with two tries, before second-row Kim Ho Bum made the most of a lineout for a third and Kim Nam Uk added a fourth.
The home side scored a fifth try before half-time, this time Nam Uk regained possession inside his own half following an impressive attack from Malaysia and went the entire length of the field before offloading to full-back Lee Jae Bok.
It was not all one-way traffic, though, and Malaysia got a deserved try in the second half, this time they went the whole length of the pitch before outside centre Samuela Tamanisau scored their third try in the Top 3.
World Cup the priority
Just as they looked likely to score a second, Korea once again turned the ball over and this time speedster Jeong Min Jang darted through the Malaysian defence to score his fourth try of the competition.
Oh Youn Hyung was in fine form with the boot, converting his first seven kicks successfully but he missed his eighth kick of the match following replacement Kim Jeong Min's try for Korea.
Hyung bounced back from that miss to step up and slot a drop goal, his 18th point in the match, and as Malaysia tired Kim Nam Uk scored his second try.
Malaysia kept pushing and Aiman Jamaludin was the beneficiary from a good scrum, dotting down in the corner but Korea still had time for one more try from Kim Jinh Yeok.
“It was very important to win today especially because we want to head to the World Cup. That is our priority and so we are pretty satisfied with the result,” said captain Lee Yong Seung.
“We were a bit overwhelmed by the thought of having to make everything perfect though which led to making more mistakes that we would have liked. But we will fix that for the match against Hong Kong.”
The penultimate round of the Asia Rugby Championship 2018 sees Hong Kong hosts Malaysia on 26 May.