Thailand recorded their first ever international victory on January 30 with a 46-10 win over Japan in a friendly at Redfern Oval in Sydney Australia.
The historic match was the first between the two Asian countries and was played in Australia as both teams were competing in the Cabramatta International Nines tournament.
The match also marked the first time three female officials were in charge of a Rugby League International with referee Emily Droguett along with sideline officials Faye Breslin and Amber Fitzgerald being appointed for the match.
Thailand got off to a flying start when prop Dylan Baxter barged his way over for a try from close range after just three minutes. The conversion was unsuccessful.
From the restart Thailand made good ground downfield and were on the attack. Five eight Tyler Chant gave a nice short ball to back rower Gun Banlusin on the left edge and he proved too strong for the defence and scored. Again the conversion was unsuccessful and the Stars led 8-0.
Thailand were dominating the contest up front with some good go forward and prop Baxter broke the line and drew the fullback to send half Charlie Jones on a 30 metre run to score under the posts. Kevin Hucker converted the goal.
Right on quarter time the Stars scored a spectacular try when the ball was kept alive with some good offloads and Tyler Chant was right on the spot to score under the posts. Hucker converted and Thailand scored a point a minute to lead 20-0 at the first break.
Japan was showing a lot more purpose in the second quarter and was starting to match Thailand up front. They were rewarded when hooker Isabu Yamamoto took a nice pass and burrowed his way over the line. The try was not converted.
The Samurais were playing good football with quick play the balls and troubling the Stars out wide. Centre Ryo Fujii scored after some great lead up work from half Fumio Mino who was having a terrific game. Mino converted the try and the Japanese were back in the contest trailing 20-10.
The Thais after a couple of back to back sets were putting the Japan defence under pressure and replacement forward William Savanh crashed over next to the posts. It was an emotional moment in the game as Savanh was mobbed by team mates out of respect as his grandmother had passed away just hours earlier whilst on the way to the match. Hucker converted and at half time Thailand were leading 26-10.
The third quarter was an absorbing contest with Japan having the better of play and only some good Thailand defence preventing them from scoring. The momentum of the game shifted when Stars lock Narong Khamluechai took a pass from dummy half and ran in behind the ruck where he found space. He had too much pace for the cover defence and scored under the posts. Hucker converted.
Right on three quarter time Thailand scored the try of the match when winger Kittaphop Chaiyadee made a bust down the left sideline before passing inside to a support. As the defence came across in cover the ball was spread back inside the grain where Chaiyadee backed up to score a try in his first game for the Stars. The try was not converted and Thailand led 36-10 at the break.
The final quarter saw Thailand score the only points through two tries and they were both scored by prop Baxter who was having a superb game. The gallant Japanese kept fighting to the end but Thailand spurred on by a small but vocal group of supporters from Sydney’s Thai community kept them at bay.
The final score was Thailand 46 Japan 10 in what was an entertaining match in which both teams were applauded by the crowd at full time.
Prop Dylan Baxter with three tries troubled Japan all game and was the official player of the match. Captain and half Charlie Jones, hooker Matthew Colgrave and lock Narong Khamluechai were other standouts. Hooker Isabu Yamamoto and half Fumio Mino were the best for Japan and troubled Thailand whilst skipper Amane Konishi led the team well.
The Thais have improved immensely since their debut match in the Asia Cup against Philippines back in 2012.
Thailand Consular General Mr Theeratep Promvongsanon proudly greeted the players on the field at full time to offer his congratulations on Thailand’s first ever win.
THAILAND 46 (D.Baxter 3, G.Banlusin, C.Jones, T.Chant, W.Savanh, N.Khamluechai, K.Chaiyadee tries; K.Hucker 4, N.Khamluechai goals) defeated JAPAN 10 (I.Yamamoto, R.Fujii tries; F.Mino goal). Played at Redfern Oval, Sydney on January 30, 2014. Crowd: 500. Referee: Emily Droguett (Aus). Sideline Officials: Faye Breslin (Aus) and Amber Fitzgerald (Aus). Penalties: Japan 7-6.