Vietnam grabbed their third win in a row at SEA Games 31's men's beach handball tournament on May 8 in northern Quang Ninh province.
The host team defeated Thailand 2-1 in the third-round match on Tuan Chau Island.
The first half saw Vietnam attack rapidly and they quickly went ahead.
La Van Lon, Le Van Binh and Nguyen Chi Tam took the responsibility of scoring for the hosts, who received strong support from residents and tourists.
They ended the first set at 21-12.
The 15-minute interval was worth it for the Thais who came back strongly with more threatening attacks that put them ahead in the set.
Coach Trinh Huy Cuong urged his players to strengthen their defence and fight back but his players could not narrow the gap. The second set ended at 20-16 for the visitors, leading to a shoot-out.
It was the first set lost by Vietnam, the defending champions.
The shoot-out was neck-on-neck, reaching 10 apiece. Goalkeeper Vo Vuong Trong ended up the hero of the Vietnamese side, denying many powerful finishes as Vietnam eventually ran out 18-16 winners.
Earlier, Vietnam had beaten Singapore and the Philippines, both 2-0.
With three wins, Vietnam are top of the ranking table and have one hand on the championship trophy, although there are three more matches to go.
In the earlier game on May 8, the Philippines beat Singapore 2-0.
There are four teams taking part in this event, competing in a two-leg round-robin format. The team with the best points will take gold on May 11, one day before the opening ceremony.
Initially, five teams registered to take part in the men's beach handball, before Indonesia dropped out.
They also pulled out of the women's category, leading to the cancellation of this event. Their decision left only two teams, Vietnam and Thailand, and regulations rules a tournament can only take place with at least three teams.
The Vietnamese women could not compete at the SEA Games 31 but they recently won the Asian championship. They will be continental representatives at the world championship in Greece in June and the World Games in the US in July.