Singapore demoted after losing 40-20 to Malaysia




Singapore's men's rugby team fell 40-20 to Causeway rivals Malaysia in their final Asian Rugby Championship Division 1 match yesterday.

The defeat means Singapore finished bottom of the four-team group and are relegated to Division 2, from where they were promoted last month after Kazakhstan's late withdrawal.

The result came as a disappointment for the team, who were in good spirits after posting an upset 28-24 win over the Philippines on Wednesday.

When fly-half Michael Patterson converted a penalty try in the 52nd minute to narrow the deficit to 16-13 at Kuala Lumpur's Royal Selangor Stadium yesterday, it briefly looked like the underdogs would mount another comeback.

But that was as good as it got for the Republic.

Singapore captain Gaspar Tan (right) said: "We started off well and it is unfortunate that we did not take advantage of the momentum we had in the first half.

"A positive takeaway is that our scrums were good throughout the game, but we played too wide in the second half and allowed gaps to open, but credit must go to Malaysia for their performance today."

With the victory, the Malaysians, who also beat Sri Lanka 42-17 on Wednesday, clinched their first Division 1 title with a table-topping tally of 11 points.

Singapore, on four points, finished bottom of the pile.

The stakes were high going into yesterday's game, as the winners would have at least retained their spot in Division 1, while the losers faced potential relegation.

Singapore started well, taking the lead after just three minutes when Patterson converted a penalty try.

But Malaysia responded with two penalties and a try to take an 11-6 lead into the interval.

The match was evenly contested for the first 15 minutes of the second half, before Singapore lost steam.

Tan said that his team will bounce back from this setback.

"I feel that this has been a good experience for the team," the 27-year-old captain said.

"The win against Philippines, especially, meant a lot to us.

"We will remember this experience and rebuild from here. We have to work to build on our strengths and improve on our weaknesses and bounce back stronger next year."

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