With defending champions Hong Kong sitting out the first weekend of the Asia Rugby Championship Top 3, it was left to Korea and Malaysia to get the region's premier competition underway in Incheon.
Malaysia took an early lead in the match with Lawrence Petrus' score showing the hosts they were in for a tough battle. But Jihoon You, Seong Min Jang and Myung Jun Lee all crossed the whitewash to make the score 19-7 at half-time.
Korea began the second half as they ended the first, adding further tries through Jinseok Lee and captain Kwanyoung Na, but again Malaysia hit back with a well-worked try from winger Wong Wye Wye.
With the match drawing to a close Malaysia looked to play some free-flowing rugby, stringing together multiple phases, but handling errors cost them dear and Korea capitalised to cross for three more tries, Yeonsik Jeong, Jeongmin Jang and Jae Bok Lee getting their names on the scoresheet to leave the final score at 52-14.
The result did not affect either side's position in the World Rugby Rankings with Korea, in 30th, still 15 places better off than their beaten opponents.
“In our preparations, we focused a great deal on our structure," said Korea captain Na. “It was a very tough game for us. We had a difficult start, but we made a good recovery and are now ready for the next challenge.
“We want more stability and structure within our play and more phases with the ball as we move forward to the match in Malaysia.”
With Brad Mika taking charge of his first Asia Rugby Championship match as Malaysia head coach, his side were much improved from the same match 12 months ago which ended in a 67-12 defeat.
Both sides now travel to Malaysia for the return leg in a week’s time.
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