PHUKET TOWN: Penguin International RFC, representing England, look firm favorites to win the Singha Phuket International Rugby Sevens after the first day of the two-day tournament. On a wet and windy pitch, the Penguins trounced Malaysia 37-0 and thrashed Hong Kong 50-0 to come out top of Pool A. Hong Kong came in second in the pool by beating Malaysia 19-14. But for the home crowd, the greatest delight of the day was the performance of the Thai team, who beat Wales 25-10 and Netherlands 22-10 to win Pool D and go into the Division 1 playoffs, facing Germany in the semi-finals. Captain Poj Laksanasompong told the Gazette after the match with the Dutch, “We prepared well – we’ve been training seriously for a month and a half, and our players are the best in the country. We really want to win the tournament to honor HM the King in his 72nd year.” In Pool B, Belgium came out on top, though with much narrower margins, beating South Korea 17-15 and China 15-14. China came second with a 21-5 victory over the Koreans. Germany took honors in Pool C after proving too big for Taiwan (19-5) and Singapore (19-5). Taiwan came second after beating Singapore 17-5. Tomorrow’s competition will see the following semi-finals line-up: Korea v Wales and Malaysia v Singapore in Division 3; Netherlands v Taiwan and Hong Kong v China in Division 2; Germany v Thailand and Belgium v England in Division 1. Matches begin at 2pm at the Saphan Hin stadium.
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