Story by Yogaraj Panditurai/Red Sports. Photos by Rebekah Abbott/Red Sports
Physical, Sports, & Outdoor Education Branch (PSOEB), Evans Road, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 – In a major upset, Raffles Institution (RI) toppled heavyweights St Andrew’s Secondary School (SA) 19-15 in the semi-finals of the National B Division Rugby Championship.
The win gives RI their first final appearance since 2012 when they lost 7-15 to the Saints. The result also meant St Andrew’s will miss out on the final for the first time since 2013.
Before the match kicked off, most neutrals would have pinned 24-time champions SA to breeze past RI, six-time title winners themselves, but whose last title came in 1991. After all, Saints had beaten the Rafflesians 42-7 in Round 1.
However, it was the RI underdogs who were firing on all cylinders in the first half. They were the ones piling on the pressure and their full-on aggression was crucial in RI retaining as much possession as possible.
It was SA though who struck first blood through Chua Wei Li (SA #4) as he scored the all-important first try but the Saints’ spirits were quickly deflated when Izaac Tay’s (RI #6) try brought the tie level at 5-5 into halftime.
In the second half, RI quickly raced to a 10-5 lead when Jordan Poon’s (RI #16) lung-bursting run from one end to the other gave the Rafflesians the opening they needed to regain their momentum. Bervyn Wong (RI #25) converted to increase the lead to 12-5.
But SA came roaring back. Syamininurdhami (SA #25) and Julian Leow (SA #7) scored a try each to regain the lead at 15-12.
RI still had enough for a final reply when Spencer Wee (RI #11) scored and Bervyn Wong (RI #25) converted to give them the 19-15 win.
RI coach Teo Kai Hock rushed onto the field to celebrate with his players once the final whistle blew.
Said coach Teo: “Our players played well. Both the teams wanted it (the win) but the odds were in our favour today and the better team came out on top.
“We broke down the game into four quarters and in each quarter, we had a game plan. We played to our strengths and weaknesses and executed our game plan accordingly. It was an evenly matched tie but RI were just the tougher team today and we defended very well.”
Captain and first-time finalist, Gideon Kee (RI #7), was visibly overjoyed with the victory, saying: “Today’s result was real close and both teams did their best. Hats off to the Saints because they did so well. Despite making some mistakes, we pressed on and worked hard throughout. That’s why we won the game.”
Gracious in defeat, SA coach Simon Etheredge congratulated his team’s opposition.
“Raffles deserved the win and they forced us to succumb under pressure. We played poorly and made a lot of mistakes. We had plenty of chances to score but we couldn’t capitalise,” he said.
RI will now do battle against defending champions Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) on March 29 at Evans Road where they will seek to win their first B Division crown since 1991.
ACS(I) beat ACS (Barker Road) 35-0 in the other semi-final.
RI vs SA
Izaac Tay (RI #6) – 1 try
Jordan Poon (RI #16) – 1 try
Spencer Wee (RI #11) – 1 try
Bervyn Wong (RI #25) – 2 conversions
Chua Wei Li (SA #4) – 1 try
Syamininurdhami (SA #25) – 1 try
Julian Leow (SA #7) – 1 try
Ng Jun En Nathanael (#22), Rohit George Joseph (#1), Aiman Jianhao Bin Ikram (#18), Goh Kai Jen Nicholas (#2), Kollaart Leon Samuel (#5), Jordan Poon (#16), Joshua Choy Weng Yew (#34), Advon Lee Zhe Wei (#), Lee Kai Si (#10), Jonathan Christopher Lim Shao Hwei (#9), Zheng Hong Yi (#32), Ang Ben Yao Aldrick (#20), Chen Shao Heng (#), Spencer Wee (#11), Matthew Ho (#14), Dylan Wei Jie Clark (#31), Zhu Hong Peng (#15), Muhammad Wafiq Aquil (#12), Sek Ray (#8), Yeo Isaac (#29), Ho Kai En (#29), Izaac Tay (#6), Javille Goh (#13), Kee Yun Shao (#22), Wong Wei Feng Bervyn (#25), Gideon Kee Ann (#7), Ahmad Amsyar (#28), Luqmanul Hakim (#17)
Clemen Liau (#27), Jeremy Lum (#), Ang Seow Pinn (#28), Lee Sze Yong Benjamin (#26), Brendon Pang Jun Ming (#2), Dimayuga Dylan Gabriel (#1), Khairil Ridzuan B Zulkilfee (#14), Syamininurdhami B K (#25), Jelinek Dylan Kirk (#19), Umar B Mohamed Sha’ari (#3), Malda Airic Jan Buswilan (#24), Julian Leow Tze An (#7), Mika’il Yue B Istiandra (#13), Mohamad Irfan (#16), Mohamad Haikal Zafran (#12), Brennan Ng Zheng Yang (#11), Renald Lim Sheng Yew (#13), Chua Wei Li (#4), Marcus Chan Jun Ren (#21), James Leow Tze Ning (#6), Keong Qiliang (#8), Daryl Liau Guo Zhi (#10), Mohammad Putra Wafaa (#18), Ethan Lee Junxian (#5), Miguel Erwin Besoro William (#15), Chong Dillion (#23), Ahmad Rasidee (#9), Jerome Loh Kai Jun (#22)
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