In a very closely fought battle in the league standing for the IRAUG 7s. SMUrugby faced a pressurizing task to win or draw their last group game against University of Western Australia (UWA) or exit from the tournament.
The boys were in a relax mood as they got ready to face the host and perhaps, even more relax when they realize their opponents were no where in sight during the time of kick-off. A possible forfeit of the game was on the cards, but UWA's players started to stroll in just as the game was to be awarded to SMU. But, after much discussion and after being 20mins late from the kickoff, the match eventually took place with SMU taking on a depleted UWA side, who only had 6 players on the field.
SMU vs UWA
Even with a numerical advantage on the field, the SMU boys were unable to stamp their authority on the host. The host were the first to draw first blood, taking an early lead with an unconverted try, to bring the score to 0-5. This cause a bit of panic among the City boys as they attempted to settle their nerves and make use of the extra man. Eventually a quick break just before half time from forward Vicknesh Sellutharai brought the score levelled, 5-5. The conversion by Amos Siow was unsuccessful.
In the second half, the City boys were not contented with sitting back for a draw in the game and piled on the pressure on UWA. Pressure soon turn to points when substitute and old guard, Chong Wei Nurn once again bulldozed his way to the try line to score, bringing the score to 10-5. The conversion was once again unsuccessful.
The rest of the game was evenly matched as both teams made breaks, but failed to put their respective chances away. The lack of clinical finishing by the SMU team proved costly as UWA scored a last minute try to equalize 10-10. With the conversion to be taken, a successful conversion would defeat the SMU boys. But the angle and distance was shown to be out of reach for the UWA's kicker as it fell short and was off-target.
The final score was 10-10 and was enough to send the City boys into the 3rd/4th Playoffs.
3rd/4th Playoff: SMU vs Curtin University
In a repeat fixture, Curtin University was all out for revenge in the playoff for the bronze medal. With the 3rd/4th play-offs taking place 30mins after the game against UWA. Players such as, Lionel Poh, Alex Ong and Lionel Kong were unable to recover in time for the game and were not featured in the starting line up. In addition, the tournament organizers extended the game play for the finals, imposing 10 minute halves from the original 7 minute halves.
The SMU team was visibly tired during the warm-up. On the other hand, Curtin who had ample rest from their previous group game were fresh and were quick to capitalized on the sluggish SMU side romping to 3 early tries in the first half with SMU having no reply for the energized Curtin.
In the process, SMU lost Amos Siow through a concussion in the first half when a break from a pass from Sherman Yeo, was quickly closed down by the covering defense that saw him taking a knock on the head and needing to be substituted at half time.
With the dreams of a bronze medal slipping away, changes needed to be made quickly to the team. Substitutes Lionel Poh, Alex Ong and Lim Wei Ming all came on and made an impact immediately. Tries from Lionel Poh, Alex Chew and Chong Wei Nurn spurred a fight back against Curtin. But it all provided too little too late, as Curtin turned on the style and hammered another 3 more tries in the closing minutes to sink the hearts of the City boys. The final score was 17-36.
The boys from SMU finished 4th out of 6 teams in the IRAUG 7s. Although the boys were clearly disappointed, a slightly drowsy SMUrugby President, Amos Siow had more than his fair share of words on the tour,
"The boys have worked very hard to get this far in the tournament. To come here (Perth) to win a game and play some good rugby has been no easy task. Being the only Asian team and competing against 5 other top Australian Universities, 4th is certainly a position that we are not to be ashamed about. If only, we won our games against UWA and Murdoch University, things could have possibly resulted in us finishing a 2nd."
On the whole, the trip has been a huge success in many ways, all players have benefited from the experience and have bonded over the past 10 days. The boys will be looking forward sharing their experience with their fellow-team mates and will get ready to compete in the upcoming Tri-Universities Championships in Mid Jan.
The squad of 12 are due to return on Monday, 10th December at 7.15am.
10th Dec - Perth to Singapore (SQ 216)
The SMU tennis boys and girls both finished 2nd in the respective tournament. Congratulations!