Story by Adrian Tan/Red Sports. Photos by Vanessa Lim/Red Sports
A disappointed Saint falls to his knees after ACS (Barker) score their second try. (Photo 1 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
CCAB, Thursday, August 11, 2011 — Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) shocked tournament favourites Saint Andrew’s Secondary 20-8 in the semi-final of the National C Division Rugby Championship.
The Saints boasted an undefeated record in the preliminary rounds, finishing with a perfect 7-0 win-loss record to top their first round group. Having defeated ACS (Barker) 24-10 in the preliminary round, Saints had looked very good in the lead up to the semis and had defeated the other teams
ACS (Barker), on the other hand, ended their preliminary round with a 4-3 win-loss record, finishing in fourth to grab the final semi-final spot. However, this game proved the old adage true — you are only as good as your last game. ACS (Barker) came to the semis with nothing to lose and a plan to take on the much vaunted Saints. ACS (Barker)’s secret weapon wasn’t any player on the pitch but the brains behind the outfit, head coach Lincoln Tan.
From the opening kick off, Saints were pegged down in their own half. They defended stoutly against the ACS (Barker) backline which boasted towering centre, Rafi (#13). Neither side gave an inch away, and it was trench warfare before Saints cleared their lines following a penalty on their 5 metre line. It was Saints who then drew first blood when they slotted home a penalty from about 15 metres out.
ACS (Barker) never looked ruffled. They continued to play Saints at their kicking game, electing to kick to space at any available opportunity, with a whole deck of chasers pressurizing the receiving player. This paid dividends when Saints knocked on a ball in dangerous territory.
From the scrum, Rafi (#13) broke the Saints line to score in the left corner. Following the unsuccessful conversion, the ref blew for halftime with ACS (Barker) leading 5-3.
In the second half, ACS (Barker) soaked up the expected pressure from the Saints. However, ACS (Barker) continued with their kicking game, and waited for the opportunity to release the lethal twin centres, #12 and #13. They did just that, adding two more tries between them, with the ACS(BR) #12 scoring the try of the game.
#12 received the ball from the ruck, dummied a pass to Rafi, before slicing through the Saints defence, and outpacing the Saints last man to score in the corner.
A further successful penalty after that made the score 20-3, leaving the Saints the huge task of scoring at least three tries to square the match.
Saints never gave up, they fought like tigers in the scrum and rucks, and were eventually rewarded when their forwards finally rumbled over the try line to make the score 20-8. Their hopes of making headway were dashed when they missed the conversion.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock, ACS (Barker) stood tall against the attacking waves of Saints players. When the whistle finally blew for full time, the ACS (Barker) team and their supporting crowd erupted in wild cheers. They were the underdogs and had achieved the near-impossible. They had earned their trip to the final next week, leaving the despondent Saints players to ponder what had gone wrong and what could have been.
While Saints were good in dishing out the kicking game, they were not all that adept at defending against it. ACS (Barker) kicked repeatedly to the Saints players on the wings. Mishandling caused many knock ons and it was from these knock ons that ACS (Barker) had gained territorial and strategic advantage, resulting in the opening try and others.
Credit to the quality of the Saints team, ACS (Barker) did not have many scoring opportunities, but they were clinical in converting opportunities into points, which was probably the difference between the teams on the day. The ACS (Barker) team wanted it more on the day, and they definitely earned their place in the C Div Rugby finals next week.
The final between ACS (Barker) and ACS(I) is scheduled for Thursday, August 18th. The venue and timing have not been confirmed.
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