Hosts Thailand beat Kazakhstan 35-20 to set up a match with the UAE in Saturday’s Asia Rugby Championship Division II final.
The winner of the match will gain promotion to Division I, taking a step closer to the top echelon of rugby in Asia, and also a step towards the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process.
With the UAE already having beaten Guam 82-7 in the tournament opener in Hua Hin, Thailand responded with an impressive win of their own against Kazakhstan.
Despite conceding the first try to Stanislav Paceyev, tries from Wuttikorn Kaewkhiao, Kin Laksanasompong (2) and Pooreepong Wachirabunjong gave them a 28-10 lead at the break.
Kazakhstan hit back with three tries of their own from Daulet Akymbekov, Abdrakhman Nazhibayev and Dastan Suleimenov but a fifth Thailand try from Panupong Puangpun secured a 38-20 win for the hosts.
The win will impact Thailand’s World Rugby rankings with Kazakhstan sitting 14 places above them in 62nd before the match.
In Wednesday’s opening match the UAE, ranked 70th, began their campaign with a 82-7 win over Guam (69th).
It was a tight first forty minutes with the UAE taking a 19-7 lead into the break thanks to two tries from Jaen Botes, with Brian Ramiro dotting down for Guam’s only score of the match.
In the second half the UAE ran away with the match, scoring nine converted tries with Botes securing a hat-trick. Sakiusa Natisau scored a second-half hat-trick while Kinivilame Natuna also crossed for two tries in the victory.
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