Story by Koh Yizhe and Ng Enna/Red Sports
Co-curricular Activities Branch, Tuesday, March 1, 2011 — Last year’s second runners-up St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI) survived a late charge by Raffles Institution (RI) to draw 8-8 in the B Division Rugby Championship.
With the scores tied at 8-8 in the closing minutes of the match, RI had the chance to steal victory when they were awarded two late penalties. However, Park Chang Kyu (#11) scuffed both penalty kicks to allow SJI to hold on for the draw.
“It’s always tough to play against RI,” said SJI coach Alfred Nathan. “They make worthy opponents. We’re more than satisfied with the result, and I think it’s a pretty good result. I won’t take anything away from our opponents, they are a pretty good bunch of rugby players so I think it’s a totally fair and good result.”
Both teams took a couple of minutes to settle into the game, but it was SJI who took the lead. At the 15-minute mark, Lee Zhan Pheng (#2) powered his way over the RI try line. Captain Joshua Toh (#10) was unfortunate to see his resultant conversion attempt hit the post.
It did not take long for RI to fashion a reply and they did so on their next attack. Just five minutes after falling behind, RI were back on level terms thanks to Jeremy Yew’s (#21) try. Park Chang Kyu (#11) failed to give RI the extra two points and the lead when he missed his kick.
The rest of the half was uneventful as both sides cancelled each other out to end the half even at 5-5.
Things picked up in the second half when RI took the lead through a penalty by Park Chang Kyu in the first few minutes. SJI responded in similar style when Joshua Toh made his penalty count to tie the match at 8-8.
That was how the score line would stay but not before RI desperately tried to take victory. For much of the second half, RI camped in SJI’s half. However, SJI’s defense held strong.
Against the run of play, they almost stunned RI when Umar Mohd Noor (#12) made a powerful sprint down the right flank towards the try line but was stopped in time by an RI player.
Towards the end of the match, RI had the chance to seize victory with two penalties but the pressure got to Park Chung Kyu, as he let SJI off the hook when he missed both his attempted conversions.
“It was a good game, a close fight,” said Joshua Toh, captain of the SJI team. “Both sides took their chances so it was a draw. I think we played well and although we made a few mistakes here and there, I’m pleased with my team’s performance.”
Coach Nathan commented on the two chances at the end for RI: “That’s just the way it goes. It’s possibly nerves on the other side.”
The SJI coach identified their defense to be the focus of the match and felt that his charges are “improving from game to game.”
“We have to take one match at a time,” continued the coach when quizzed about improving on their third-place finish last year. “Our team always want to improve. We will see where we are at the moment, try and see what other improvements we can make and then move on from there.”
RI now have two draws, a win and a defeat from four matches which leaves them lying in third. SJI have played three matches, with one win, one loss, and one draw.
Both teams will play their next matches on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Republic Polytechnic. SJI will face Pioneer Secondary, while RI will take on Junyuan Secondary.