Team Singapore

Thais fly off the blocks to defeat S'pore in women's rugby 7s final

Before most of the 4,500 fans at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium even realised the South-east Asia (SEA) Games women's rugby 7s final had started, Uthumporn Liamrat had given Thailand the lead against Singapore.

The dream start took just 19 seconds and the Thai women never looked back.

It was 10-0 a minute later, 22-0 by half-time, and 39-0 in the end as Thailand retained the gold medal they won in 2007.

"The good start was something we planned for and we also knew how to stop Singapore," said Thai coach, Supparut Allapach.

"We knew (Singapore's) weaknesses from the first game against them and we were very confident before the final."

Few were surprised by the result, as Thailand had outclassed Singapore 31-5 in the round-robin stage on Saturday.

Once again it was speedy winger Chitchanok Yusri who undid the Singapore defence. The 26-year-old scored twice against the hosts in the first game and finished off with a hat-trick in the final.

"She is one of our best players, but I think the system we played won the tournament for us. We passed, tackled and defended very well," said Supparut, who has been coaching the Thai women since 2007.

"Before coming here, we knew we would play Singapore in the final.

"We prepared everything."

The Singapore players replaced their frowns with smiles half an hour later, as they sang a birthday song for captain Samantha Teo outside the dressing room.

The hosts, who targeted gold before the tournament, had a decent two days, beating the Philippines, Malaysia and Laos in the round-robin stage.

"We were on track all the way, but we were disappointing in the final, said Teo, who turned 25 yesterday.

"The Thais really pressed us and we just didn't gel. The team were hoping to win in front of a home crowd, but we're still happy (with a silver medal)."

Singapore coach Gene Tong admitted that the Thais were a class above the other four teams.

"After the first loss to them, we knew we had to contain them better in the final," he said.

"But they settled quickly and showed how experienced they are.

"We have the Asian Rugby 7s coming up later this year. Hopefully, with this SEA Games experience, we'll improve in the years to come."

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