After a 7-year hiatus from the Harmony Cup tournaments. The Philippines made their first appearance in the rebranded Harmony 9s competition in its 2nd year running at the Croome Road Sporting Complex, Albion Park on the 14th and 15th October.
The Philippines Admirals Open Men’s team participated on the Saturday tournament and came away winning all their pool game matches against Chile 10-8, Ukraine, 20-14 and Vietnam 8-4.
What was outstanding about all the Philippine Admiral wins, was that they were all come from behind wins. With victory only coming in the dying minutes in all three games. Show casing the passion and never give up attitude of the Philippine players.
In the first game, Melvin Camara led the fight back against Chile in the 2nd half with his try followed by the winning try to Issac Acheampong, with a Nikolas Forrest conversion securing the win.
In the second game against Ukraine the Philippines again were down 2 tries in the opening half. With tries to Andrew Mahusay and Ned Stephenson which he converted, gaining the Philippines the lead. Ukraine hit back with a converted try regaining the lead. Terrence O’Reilly then scored a try to level the scores. With a minute left on the clock. Captain Ned Stephenson gathered the ball in the Philippines quarter and ran the length of the field, running pass a number of Ukrainian attempted tackles to score the match winning try that he duly converted.
Final game against Vietnam was a tough grind, who again scored the first try. It wasn’t until the second half that the Philippines equalized through a try to Andrew Mahusay. With strong defense from both sides the dead lock was only broken with a try in the final minutes to Gerald Reyes. With a threatened come back from Vietnam on their last play. It took a desperate Richard Mante tackle, taking the player over the side line to secure the Philippines 3 pool game winning streak, on their return to the Harmony 9s.
The Philippine Admirals Open Men’s team missed out on the Final spot. On a for and against point differential to Africa United and North Macedonia who respectively won their pool games on higher margins.
The second day of the competition saw the Philippine Juniors represent the nation. With history being made for the inaugural appearance of the U16 Junior Sampaguitas Women’s team. They were joined by a Philippines Junior U16 and U18 men’s team.
The Junior Sampaguitas started the competition well. Holding off a much bigger Western Samoa team to a 4-0 score line. The Junior Sampaguitas were in tough pool for their inaugural appearance so it became a baptism of fire for the young women. With their second game against the Cook Islands seeing the Junior Sampaguitas go down 32-0. A credit to the young women as they rallied in their last game against Tonga. With a much stronger defensive game. Epitomized by the bleeding head of Lani Anderson through a head clash, who continued to play after getting a dressing. With the team going down 18-0 to Tonga.
The Philippines U16 Men’s team had a dream start to their pool games emulating their senior men “older brothers” on the previous day. With Philippines Jefferson Turner scoring their first try of the game, converted by Jayden Nguyen. Fiji struck back quickly, with the Philippines answering back through Jock Selwood which was converted by Triston Ross. Both teams were trading tries with one another, with another try to Fiji. Followed by Jefferson Turner with his second try for a 2 point lead. Fiji scores but missed the conversion. Rizal Peters wins it for the Philippines scoring the final try for a 20-14 win.
The U16s second game against Tonga was the best match in the tournament from all the Philippines teams. With no quarter shown by either side with tries being traded one after the other. The Philippines score the first try through Zeik Selwood with Tonga replying with one of their own. Cooper Page returns the scoring favour, converted by Jayden Nguyen. Tonga return through a converted try. Zeik Selwood scores his second for the Philippines again converted by Jayden Nguyen. Tonga scores another try. With the clock counting down, The Philippines take the lead with a try to Juancho Cambronero again converted by Jayden Nguyen. With a score of 20-18 in the final minute of play the Philippines desperately defend their lead. To see it lost at the buzzer with a final converted try to Tonga for a 24-20 score.
Having given it all against Tonga the Philippines U16 give away an 18 -0 first half lead to Africa United in their final match. The young men rally in the second half with Jayden Nguyen converting his try and Zechariah Kaillis scoring the final try for the Philippines for an 18-10 final score.
The Philippines U18 Men’s team started the tournament behind their opposition with a limited starting squad of 11 players with their oppositions New Zealand Maori, Western Samoa and Cook Islands all having their full complement of 15 players.
The Philippines first game was a tough encounter with the New Zealand Maoris scoring 5 tries, converting one. With Mark Callaghan replying for the Philippines with a try converted by Mitchell Connors. The second game was an improvement against Western Samoa with their three tries and one conversion replied to by Mitchell Connors with a converted try for a 14-6 score. With such a depleted side the loss of Philippines player Mark Callaghan through injury, saw the team going into their final match against the Cook Islands with only 10 players.
The final game played by the U18s was a game between 15 Cook Islanders and 10 brave Filipinos. The U18s left their best performance for their last game with Andre Wisham scoring first, converted by Mitchell Connors. The Cook Islands then scored two tries and one conversion. Ken Pena scored one more for the Philippines locking the score at 10 all. With a minute left to play Mitchell Connors gambles with a chip kick in the early tackle count who just missed regathering the ball back which would have seen him score. With the clock counting down the Cook Islands scored a match winning converted try for a final 16-10 score. The Philippines gritty performance denied the Cook Island team a place in the Grand Final, being denied the extra converted try they needed to make it, due to tough Philippines defense. The Philippines 10, heart, passion and grit showcased these young men’s pride in their Philippine jersey and heritage. Mabuhay Ng Pilipinas!
Philippines Admirals Open Men’s
Ned Stephenson ©
Gerald Reyes (VC)
James Paul Bautista
• Game 1 Philippines V Chile 10-8 (Melvin Camara & Issac Acheampong, Try; Nikolas Forrest, Goal)
• Game 2 Philippines V Ukraine 20-14 (Ned Stephenson*2, Andrew Mahusay, Terrence O’Reilly, Try; Ned Stephenson*2 Goal)
• Game 3 Philippines V Vietnam 8-4 (Andrew Mahusay & Gerald Reyes, Try)
Philippines U16 Women Juniors
Leiyla Rose Garcera
• Game 1 Philippines V Western Samoa 0-4
• Game 2 Philippines V Cook Islands 0-32
• Game 3 Philippines V Tonga 0-18
Philippines U16 Men Juniors
• Game 1 Philippines V Fiji 20-14 (Jefferson Trurner*2, Jock Selwood, Rizal Peters, Try; Jayden Nguyen, Triston Ross, Goal)
• Game 2 Philippines V Tonga 20-24 (Zeik Selwood*2, Cooper Page, Juancho Cambronero, Try; Jayden Nguyen*2 Goal)
• Game 3 Philippines V Africa United 10-18 (Jayden Nguyen, Zachariah Kaillis, Try; Zachariah Kaillis Goal)
Philippines U18 Men Juniors
Justin Kim Loxely
• Game 1 Philippines V Fiji 22-6 (Mark Callaghan, Try; Mitchell Connors, Goal)
• Game 2 Philippines V Western Samoa 6-14 (Mitchell Connors, Try; Mitchell Connors, Goal)
• Game 3 Philippines V Cook Islands 10-16 (Jayden Nguyen, Zachariah Kaillis, Try; Mitchell Connors, Goal)
About the PNRL
RNPL Australia Incorporated is the Australian chain and affiliate of Pambansang Ragbi Liga Ng Pilipinas (PNRL) the governing body of Rugby League Football in the Philippines. Its mission is to enable all Filipinos to have a healthy lifestyle through their participation in Rugby League Football and to be competitive amongst the Asian Rugby League playing nations. The PNRL focus is the promotion, development, and efficient administration of Rugby League in the Philippines. The PNRL is non-profit volunteer organization, who are a member of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission. The Philippines is a member of the Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC) and an observer member of the International Rugby League (IRL).