By Les Tan/Red Sports. Photos by Vanessa Lim and Marvin Lowe/Red Sports
Ng Chun Long of ACS(I) goes over for what turns out to be the winning try in the 8-7 victory. (Photo 1 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Old Police Academy, Monday, April 12, 2010 – Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) eked out a hard-fought 8-7 victory over St Andrew’s Secondary to wrestle back the B Division Rugby Championship title they lost last year.
A James Morgan (ACS(I) #8) penalty gave the Dover Road school a 3-0 lead nine minutes into the game as a usually fluid ACS(I) team struggled to find their rhythm against their first serious opposition in the championship.
A late hit by Khor Jia Jun (SA #8) elicited a collective “Aaaah!!” from the crowd and it was no surprise when referee Harry Mason pulled out the yellow to flash it at the Saints forward to leave the boys in blue and white with only 14 men on the field.
With the man advantage, ACS(I) threatened and came close to scoring their first try of the game. James Morgan had another penalty opportunity but this time he put the ball to the right of the posts.
The Saints #14 tried to run it out but soon got his team into all sorts of trouble as he fumbled the ball, allowing ACS(I) to recover it. However, ACS(I) could not press home the advantage just a metre from the try line and a penalty call against them ended that drive.
A long punt upfield by the Saints was dropped by the ACS(I) fullback Samuel Teo, giving the initiative back to the Saints from a good field position. A period of sustained St Andrew’s pressure soon followed and although they had a chance to kick a penalty, the Saints opted to kick it out to touch. From the ensuing play, the Saints had another penalty but their attacking momentum was doused by a timely Morgan tackle on the Saints ball carrier.
The ACS(I) supporters thought their team was off the hook but Saints came back again, and this time with a try. The referee called ACS(I) on a scrum infringement and from the free-kick, the Saints forward brought the ball forward before Bryan Chong (SA #5) outran the ACS(I) line to score the first try, the first points ACS(I) conceded in the entire championship.
Naresh (SA #11) kicked a successful conversion from wide out to give the Saints a 7-3 lead. This was a huge psychological lift for the defending champions, coming as it did just before the half-time whistle and with a man down.
Buoyed by their lead, the Saints had the first significant attack in the second half when a handling error by ACS(I) gave Saints hope of a second try but Khor Jia Jun (SA #8) fumbled.
A flowing ACS(I) move down the right ended with the ACS(I) winger falling into a crowd of Saints supporters. Some unpleasantness between the players and fans forced the referees to stop the game for a good few minutes as they had to move the supporters back a safe enough distance before they were happy enough to allow the game to go on.
ACS(I) finally got the winning try in the 49th minute. From a scrum in the Saints’ half, James Morgan (ACS #8) brought the ball left. He held off a tackler and passed it out to a teammate who offloaded to scrumhalf Ng Chun Lung who went over for an 8-7 ACS(I) lead.
The drama did not end there.
Both sets of supporters then held their collective breath when St Andrew’s had the perfect opportunity to grab the lead back with a penalty right in front of the goalposts. As a hush descended on the pitch, David Daniel (SA #11) ran up to take the kick but he scythed the ball way wide of the right post, leaving the Saints in agony. ACS(I) were let off the hook.
But the was still enough time for one final St Andrew’s assault. A series of drives saw the Saints get to within a metre of the try line but the ACS(I) line held. That would prove the closest the Saints would come to turning the game around and the final whistle called time on an absorbing contest between the two best B Division rugby school teams in Singapore.
ACS(I) head coach Adrian Chong was proud of his boys.
“I would say the boys played the best game of the whole season. They were very controlled. They did exactly what we planned for. We worked very hard at catching all the kicks and kicking it back and I think that made a difference. They were trying to exploit all the kicks at us. I think our back three did fantastically well today,” said coach Adrian.
“I feel for the first time in the whole season, they really played like a team that believed that they can win. It was real character to see them fight back and hold until the last play. So I think they showed champions credentials for doing that,” added coach Adrian.
Immediately after the final whistle, a scuffle broke out between the players, causing some supporters to rush onto the field. Cooler, mature and older heads from both the ACS(I) and St Andrew’s side pulled the two sides apart and it was all over as quickly as it started.
Shafiq Zulazmi, a National University of Singapore undergraduate and rugby player, saw the incident unfold and intervened.
“Upon seeing the punch by the Saints player, the ACS old boys rushed onto the field to prevent any further harm on the ACS boy and to prevent the melee from developing into a free for all,” said Shafiq.
“Such an act does not belong on the rugby field. Hooligan behaviour from the young lad. I think it raises the issue of whether schools are teaching their boys just about the many facets of sport – winning, losing, respecting your opponent – or just about winning, failing which one resorts to punching or other forms of thuggery. I was involved in school sports for six years from 1998 to 2003 and had never seen such scenes during that period,” said Shafiq.
In 2006, in a game between ACS(I) and St Joseph’s Institution, an ACS(I) rugger bit an SJI opponent. The ACS(I) player was subsequently banned from the rest of the championship.
The win gives ACS(I) their 10th B Division title while St Andrew’s have 18 B titles to their name since the championship started in 1971.
Since 1997, the B Division championship has been won by either ACS(I) or St Andrew’s.
N.B. A partial story was first posted Monday, April 12, 2010 and now re-posted with full story and photos.
Naresh of St Andrew’s in a desperate attempt to stop Ng Chun Long of ACS(I) … (Photo 2 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
… Chun Long’s forward momentum is too great … (Photo 3 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
… and he goes over for the winning try. (Photo 4 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Chun Long’s teammate rushes in to celebrate while the St Andrew’s supporters in the background are dismayed. (Photo 5 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
An ACS(I) player get dumped into the Saints’ spectator section. The unpleasant scenes that ensued forced the referees to stop the game for a few minutes to force the crowd to move further back. (Photo 6 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
A Saints player tackles an ACS(I) opponent. (Photo 7 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
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