Kelantan wins first gold through rugby

The Kelantan team celebrate winning gold in the rugby men’s final at Sukma 2018 in Ipoh September 16, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib
The Kelantan team celebrate winning gold in the rugby men’s final at Sukma 2018 in Ipoh September 16, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Sept 16 — Kelantan have won their first gold medal of the 19th Malaysian Games (Sukma) thanks to a dominant showing from their men’s rugby team.

The rugby powerhouses thrashed their East Coast rivals Terengganu 19-0 at the Ipoh Sports Complex’s rugby stadium today, to complete a hattrick of consecutive Sukma golds in the last three games.

Kelantan head coach Mohd Khairol Azhar Md Nor said the team was fired up to bring home the state’s first gold of the games.

“We faced Terengganu in the group matches and even though we won 17-15, it was a 50-50 match,” Mohd Khairol told reporters after the match.

“But we were driven by the prospect of winning the state’s first gold. In finals, sometimes it is up to the players. If they really want to be the champions, they will do it.

“We were also inspired to win gold because this is the last Sukma games for half the team. I’m thrilled for them.”

Kelantan started with all guns blazing, scoring their first try in the opening minute of the match through Muhammad Hasif Sharifuddin.

Kelantan and Terengganu players are seen during the rugby men’s final at Sukma 2018 in Ipoh September 16, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Kelantan and Terengganu players are seen during the rugby men’s final at Sukma 2018 in Ipoh September 16, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Their lead was then rapidly extended thanks to two tries in a two-minute span from captain Muhammad Azwan Zuwairi Mat Zizi and Shafuan Shaari, in the eighth and 10th minute respectively.

Two conversions from Zulmajdi Kama Razali only added to Terengganu’s misery, and the 19-point margin was enough to keep Kelantan on top.

Skipper Muhammad Azwan said the team had managed to continue the momentum from their good start in the tournament.

“We started well and we carried this on through to the final. We played Terengganu in the group stages and we used the same play patterns again,” he said.

“The only difference was that we placed more importance on line speed defence and our attacking play.

“Altogether, it was extremely satisfying to win our third gold in a row.”

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