By Adrian Tan/Red Sports. With additional reporting by Les Tan/Red Sports
Home Team Academy, Thursday, April 19, 2013 – Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) came back from 14–17 down at half time to beat Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Rd) 19–17 in the final of the National B Division Rugby Championship.
The first half saw both teams trade tries, like two heavyweights trying to batter each other into submission. It was a half that left ACS(I) head coach Adrian Chong saying simply: “It was nerve-wracking.”
“Not having two key players on the field definitely played a part in the psychology of the boys,” said coach Chong, referring to his missing captain, Isaiah Teh (#7), and fly half Roy Woo (#10). “They showed a little bit of nerves in the first half and Barker capitalised on it.
“We just kept the pressure on them to make sure that they couldn’t get out of their half. Just to disrupt every set piece that they have. The scrums went pretty well for awhile. We were winning some of their scrums, distracting them, and blocking their kicks, so I think the added pressure told in the end,” said coach Chong.
Injuries in the first half meant changes had to be made.
“We had to start making changes in the second half but I thought the reserves coming on did not make the team any weaker. I think they showed what they are really made of today,” added coach Chong.
This is ACS(I)’s sixth B Division title in the last 10 years. For ACS (Barker), they still await their first B Division title since the school opened its doors in 1994.
The last time these two schools met in a B Division final was in 2002 when ACS(I) kicked a penalty at the death to narrowly win 8–7.
The two teams that played in the 2013 B Division final are extremely familiar with each other. In the C Division two years ago, this ACS(I) squad beat ACS (Barker) 6–0 to win the title.
ACS (Barker) claimed their place in the final after they had sensationally beaten defending champions St. Andrew’s Secondary 13–10 in overtime in the semi-finals. ACS(I) booked their place in the final after beating St. Joseph’s Institution 35–3 in the other semi-final.
ACS(I) showed early nerves, dropping the opening kick off. From the resulting scrum, Matthias Soh (#2) scored the opening try for ACS (Barker). Ahmad Zhuri (#13) converted it to make it 7-0 with barely three minutes gone on the clock.
Unfazed by the early setback, ACS(I) replied through prop Alex Chia (#3) who sneaked in a try that Michael Yee (#21) converted from right in front of the posts to make it 7–7. ACS (Barker) again took the lead when scrum half Andre Quah (#10) evaded three tackles to score. Ahmad Zhuri however missed the conversion and ACS (Barker) now led 12-7.
ACS(I) struck back five minutes before half time through Jason Goh (#27) and this time Alexander Seow (#22) kicked it through the posts to give ACS(I) a two-point, 14–12 lead. With the half running down, ACS (Barker) gained a penalty on the 22m line, and gambled with a tap and go. The ACS(I) defense was static, and could only watch as Ahmad Zhuri touch down for his team’s third try of the day. Ahmad fluffed the conversion, and ACS (Barker) led 17–14 at half time.
From the opening kickoff, ACS(I) stole an ACS (Barker) lineout on their 22m line, and mauled it all the way to the try line. Despite their best attempts, ACS (Barker) could not stop ACS(I) creeping the ball forward for Jason Goh to go over for their third try. Michael Yee’s failed conversion meant ACS(I) now led by two points at 19-17.
“It was a really good forwards’ play. We kept on kicking and going, we didn’t stop until we scored the try,” recounted Jason Goh about his game-winning try in the second half.
There was to be no more scoring, as play was virtually camped inside the ACS (Barker) half. With Zachary Chio (#2) out at halftime through injury, ACS(I) were having troubles with their lineouts. On the other side, it was ACS (Barker) who could not clear their lines far enough, leaving the play scrappy and uncoordinated.
ACS (Barker) defended with their lives, and held up numerous ACS(I) scoring opportunities. ACS(I) had chances to increase the lead through penalties, lineouts and scrums but all of them went a-begging. However, there was little ACS (Barker) could do despite a last-ditch attempt to make something off a penalty kick awarded to them in the dying minutes. From the resulting lineout, a massive scrum by ACS(I) saw the ball turned over, and with that, referee Just Wang signalled the end of the game.
Injured ACS(I) captain Isaiah Teh could be seen letting out a huge roar of joy as he charged onto the field to celebrate with his teammates. A freak injury in training left him with a eye-socket fracture just before the semi-final against SJI, and his season was over.
“I went to a few doctors to seek opinions to see whether I could play in the final, but it’s took risky. All doctors said no. I felt quite down. But I think my team were motivated to play for me, play for the school, play for the supporters, play for pride, play for the honour of God,” said Isaiah.
“The first half was scrappy because there wasn’t any communication going. They haven’t been playing many matches without me. The communication wasn’t there. During the break, I told them, this is the last half an hour of B Div season. Some of them may not even come back to the school because this is their last year. So just play their best and just talk,” added Isaiah.
“Their forwards are quite strong, their backs too, so defense was key in the winning of this championship. The first half, the defence was scrappy, but after we ironed out things, we prevented them from reaching our lines, we kept them in their half,” analysed Isaiah.
Alex Chia, who scored the opening try for ACS(I), recalled the shaky first half his team had.
“We were shaky at first. We were adapting to this field, we have never played here before, Barker was playing really well, we had a lack of communication,” said Alex.
One of the walking wounded in the ACS(I) team was Joseph Yek, who was sporting a cut above his right eyebrow.
“I think I was tackling the other side and this boot flew into my head,” said Joseph, trying to recall how he got the cut.
But any pain he felt was overwhelmed by the joy of victory.
“When we drove the (Barker) guys out at the last moment and we won the game, it was exhilarating,” added Joseph.
Samuel Koh An Pang (#1), Zachary Chio Wei Wen (#2), Alex Chia Yao Wei (#3), Gregory Ang Zhi Wei (#4), Daniel Chris Lee Zi Ern (#5), Kyler Wong Yi Ming (#6), Isaiah Teh Jia Jing (#7), Darrell Ou Wai Yan (#8), Joshua Goh (#9), Roy Woo Ming Eh (#10), Jeremy Toh (#11), Toshikazu Inoue (#12), Joseph Yek Yuxiang (#13), Ho Chia Chun Daniel (#14), Lee Jen En (#15), Zachary Tan Jun Rong (#16), Muhammad Haziq Fitri (#17), Nathan Chong Wen Long (#18), Keegan Yap (#19), Cheah Wei Ren (#20), Michael Yee Jia Hong (#21), Alexander Seow Kai Liang (#22), Ethan Ho Teng Tang (#23), Joshua Lim Jun Yi (#25), Gabriel Koh (#26), Jason Goh Jien Feung (#27), Dan Yuet Yau (#28), Tjoa Han Tang (#29), Lucas Tay Yi En (#30), Lloyd Ng Jee Hean (#32)
ACS (Barker) Roster
Matthias Soh (#2), Kamen Tang (#3), Joed Tay (#4), Joseph Hu (#5), Hong Lin (#6), Loh Chuan Yi (#7), Mikkhail (#8), Anders Quah (#9), Andre Quah (#10), Samuel Gunalan (#11), Ethan Foo (#12), Ahmad Zhuri (#13), Jonathan Chua (#14), Jaren Heng (#15), Samuel Foo (#16), Ajay Ratty (#17), Asraff (#18), Jared Hoe (#19), Alaistair Wong (#20), Mun Yen (#21), Izzudin Shah (#22), Ebenezer Loy (#23), Kieren Wong (#24), Jared Tang (#25), Bronson (#26), Ezra Daniel (#27), William Loh (#28), Danish (#29)
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