Kazakhstan finish A5N campaign with win
May 25, 2008

Kazakhstan defeated the Arabian Gulf 56 - 27 in the last test match of the inaugural HSBC Asian Five Nations Top 5 competition, yesterday in Almaty.

The victory, spurred by a 31-point performance from full-back Maxim Lifontov sees Kazakhstan remain in the Top 5 competition for 2009 while the Arabian Gulf become the automatically relegated team to Division I in 2009 as the last placed finisher in this year's Top 5.

The Arabian Gulf traveled to Almaty Central Stadium for a must-win encounter to stave off relegation, but their hopes were dashed by a rapidly improving Kazakhstan team finding its stride with an eight-try day in front of their home crowds.

Kazakh fullback Maxim Lifontov scored 31 points today, with a hat trick of tries, two penalties and 5 conversions to singlehandedly outscore the opposition.

Lifontov accounted for 17 points in the first half alone. Other first half tries came through winger Yuloy Romanov, hard-charging flanker Anton Rudoy, prop Vladimir Chernyk and lock Gregory Thevkrow. Arabian Gulf fullback Paul Beard and no. 8 Dave Clark replied in the first half to bring the score to 32 - 8 Kazakhstan at the interval.

Kazakhstan and Lifontov started the second half in the same fashion with the team scoring three tries in the first 15 minutes after play resumed.

Kazakhstan finished the match with eight tries to secure fourth place on the results table with five points for the win and one bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a single game. Kazakhstan also recorded a bonus point for losing within seven points to Hong Kong in Week 2.

The Arabian Gulf added two tries in the second half to winger Francois Coetzee and centre reserve James Tometzki to salvage their pride and secure a bonus point for reaching the four try marker in a singe game.

While not enough to avoid relegation, the Arabian Gulf at least staved off a whitewash on the final points table. The team of amateur players drawn from seven different emirates can exit the Top 5 tournament with pride - and with a better idea of what it will take to regain and secure promotion from Division One in 2009.

Lifontov's prodigious tally saw him move from tied eight on the HSBC A5N Points Scorers Table to the top spot with 55 points, displacing Japan fly-half James Arlidge as the Top 5's top points scorer this year. Arlidge finished the HSBC A5N Top 5 with 51 points.

Japan's Bryce Robins was the top try scorer in the elite Top 5 competition with 7 tries from four matches. Japan's team try total was 49 from their four games.

The composition of the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top 5 for 2009 will be decided following the Division I 2008 tournament held in Chinese Taipei in November 2008, the concluding event in the inaugural HSBC Asian Five Nations 2008 which also encompasses a Division II tournament and four Regional Tournaments over the next six months.

This year's Division I tournament features China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Sri Lanka, one of which will be promoted to the Top 5 and one of which will be demoted and replaced by the top performing team in the Division II tournament from June 10 - 15 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Division II tournament is being contested by India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand.

Click here for the final Asian Five Nations standings

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