Keelung triumphed in the Ministry of Education’s National Rugby Sevens tournament in Taipei’s Shilin District yesterday, beating New Taipei City 24-22 in the final.
New Taipei struck first when Tseng Yu-min stretched over the line, but Keelung seized the lead that they held until the end with two tries. The first came from the restart and a sharp left-foot sidestep and a fend from Hsieh Ping-yi put him under the posts for the second.
New Taipei’s scrum was by far the stronger and after they won two feeds against the head, they earned the next put in and Chien Lee Si-hsiao was able to worm his way over the line with two tacklers on his back.
The match hinged on a sequence where Chien Lee ran down the right, stepped back inside beating two tacklers, but Hsiao Ta-cheng executed a last-gasp tackle around the ankles and from the turnover Keelung went 80m to score through Hsu Che-hsuan.
At halftime the score was 19-10.
New Taipei’s Hsu Wen-cheng closed the gap to two points when he busted two tackles and beat a third player to run 20m straight up the middle of the park, but Keelung replied before New Taipei finished the scoring with a try which went unconverted from a handy position. The miss meant no extra-time was necessary.
New Taipei broke upfield from a scrum on their 22m line, but a tackle on the opposing 22 forced a knock-on and the final whistle.
“It was a tough, close match,” Hsieh said. “Our experienced players helped us out a lot. It is a very good feeling to win here.”
Keelung survived a tight semi-final against defending champions Greater Kaohsiung, winning 14-12 after having a player sin-binned for a high tackle. In the last sequence of play, Kaohsiung lost the ball when Hsieh tackled Chu Chih-wei as he attempted to cross the try-line.
Kaohsiung finished fourth going down two tries to three, 12-19, to Greater Tainan, who had their unbeaten run snapped in another close semi-final when they were beaten 12-17 by New Taipei City.
Taipei beat Hsinchu City 24-7 in the playoff match for fifth place.
Taiwan coach Nathan Mauger was at the tournament to watch the players involved from his national squad.
The former All Blacks player said it was good to see his squad members perform for other teams so he could get a better grasp of their skill sets and also see new players.
The national squad has competed in tournaments in India and Thailand, and they leave for their next assignment in Singapore on the Asian Sevens circuit on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10.
Rugby is next scheduled in Taiwan on Nov. 11 to Nov. 18 when the 15-a-side CKS Cup is due to take place in Greater Tainan.