Qatar made a winning start to the tri-nations Asian Rugby Championship Division III, beating Iran 35-12 at the Aspire Warm Up and Purpose-Built Rugby Track yesterday.
Having scored six tries, including one each on the either side of the break through Huw Kinsella, the hosts also bagged a bonus point, awarded to teams scoring four or more of the five-pointers.
However, it was a forgettable day for Paul Beard in the conversions department, with the fly-half converting only one, apart from a 12th minute penalty.
“Some days things don’t just go your way. Kicking is tough and the wind wasn’t helping either. But I think he (Beard) did really well plugging the corners,” captain Tom Featherstone said.
The hosts dominated the first half, with Matthew Uffindall earning the first five points in the fifth minute. Post Beard’s three-point kick, Kinsella took the score to 13-0 with his first try of the day. Robbie Gaule and Thomas Nolan took the score to 23-0, four minutes from half-time.
Seconds before the break, the Iranians stole a try when centre Mehdi Golnari Ardekani got hold of the ball from inside their half, and set off with it; even a desperate dive from winger Rakan Mutawaa couldn’t stop Ardekani, who put Iran’s first points on the board under the bar. Reza Bayat duly converted with the half-time score at 23-7.
Ardekani and Bayat’s efforts ensured the visitors began the second half with a pep in their step, and their reserve Sadegh Pakdaman gave them further momentum with another five points. A straight forward conversion, instead bounced off the post, and the score was 23-12.
Kinsella sneaked in with his second try on the left corner, while captain Featherstone managed a try against the post. Beard converted this one and the scoreboard read 35-12.
Four minutes from time, a Qatar bid for their seventh try ended with player-cum-coach Aaron Palmer taking a freak knock off a tumbling team-mate. Palmer, who did briefly stand up before being taken off the by the medical personnel, was taken to the hospital.
Qatar defended well thereafter to ensure Iranians didn’t get any other opportunity to reduce the deficit.
“I am just very happy with the win. 35-12. I can’t complain,” Featherstone said after the match. “Yes, there were a couple of errors by us, which we will look at in the training next week. Iran played really well, but in the end we were able to control the game the way we would have wanted to.
“Huw, the big man got two tries. Pretty good stuff from him right there. He did really well.”
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