Sunday, September 7, 2008

SMUrugby Crowned Blacks Midnight 10s Bowl Champions!

After two grueling days of intense competition, SMUrugby News is proud to announce that SMUrugby emerged as the Blacks Midnight 10s Bowl Champions. It was two days full of sweat, blood and the bonds of comraderie forged by the fires of competitive pressure.

Day 1

SMU were thrown straight into the deep end with their first game against local rugby giants Singapore Cricket Club . Having had only a handful of trainings together, the boys looked uncertain and jittery on field. However firm leadership and maturity of character saw the team quickly pull together tightly to stand strong against the challenge. With the smaller SMU line up having to face up to the physically larger and more domineering Caucasians from SCC, it was only through a fierce and dogged defence that our boys kept the scoreline respectable. Despite the odds being harsh against them, SMU made a quick break to see National Winger and local pretty boy Bryan Ng dashing down the wing and across the line for a notable score against the club. Final Score: SCC 10 – SMU 5

After a long 2 hour break between matches and having had a chance to get their nerves together and leave the jitters behind, SMU quickly rose to the challenge in time to face the hosts of the tournament and bitter rivals from the previous Midnight 10s, Blacks RFC. The match up was an interesting one with both teams carrying baggage from the previous tournament into the game. Blacks had previously been the team that had relegated SMU to the Bowl grouping in an unfortunate turn of events exactly one year ago. SMU skipper Daniel Marc Chow was seen taking the team aside and prepping them for what would be a turning point in the tournament for the City Boys. When interviewed, SMUrugby's Vice-President Mouth Chew was determined: “We came all the way last year and we lost to these mofos. This is NOT going to be a repeat state of affairs. We have come a long way since then.” Having set the scene, SMU took the stage by storm, and despite having an absolute DISGRACE of a referee (George “One Year Later I’m Still A Moron” Danapal) who disallowed many of our OBVIOUS tries, SMU dominated the match to come away a clear winner with 2 tries by Bryan Ng. Final Score: SMU 10 – Blacks 0

At this point in the tournament, SMU faced much controversy as our final match of the day saw as facing the Tequila Mockingbirds, a touring side from Hong Kong who had had their fill of hard rugby for the day and had intended to give SMU a walkover. However organizers Blacks RFC kicked up a fuss over tournament rules in a bid to deny SMU an advantage in points and rankings over them. Vice-Captain Alex Chew (who was also seen to be persuading several Fijians to sign on to SMUrugby) was heard to spend the 2 hours between the matches on his phone where he contacted his personal lawyers from Bangkok, ordering them to email him copies of the tournament rulebook immediately. Fortunately however, Tequila Mockingbirds showed good sporting spirit to wait out the dreary hours to face SMU in an unprecedented 2.30 am match. Routinely our City Boys put them out of their misery and sent them home. Of note were respectable performances by our new French duo Sylvain and Alex as well as ex local swimming legend Jed Ong who made a 10m break in the second half of the match. Final Score: SMU 15 – Tequila Mockingbirds 0

This saw our boys pull safely through the first day of competition and into the deciding day of knock-out matches. SMU had achieved a respectable ranking of 5th out of a total of 16 teams by the end of the first day of matches with only NS Wanderers and Cobras (both Fijian teams), SCC and Bucks ahead of them. This effectively set SMU as the leading local team in the tournament going into the knock-out stages.

Day 2

After just a few hours of sleep, our City Boys were set to face the Singapore Cricket Club Tankards (the SCC’s 2nd team) in the first match of the knock-out stages. Despite the lack of sleep due to the punishing schedule, SMU stepped up in this match, knowing that defeat will send them packing home. Possession of the ball was mainly SMU's and the City Boys made multiple breaks, constantly putting the SCC side on the back foot. The game was finally sealed by the City boys, when Muhammad Ruzaini powered through for a try after a well-worked play between new boys Derek Chan and Wang En Jian, ensuring SMU a place in the Cup Quarterfinals. SMU romped home winners in this match by putting up 5 tries against SCC Tankards. With that, SMU advanced into the Cup Quarterfinal. Final Score: SMU 31 - SCC Tankards 0

However, the joys from the high scoring game against SCC Tankards was short-lived when the City boys faced their Day 1 opponent Singapore Cricket Club again next in the Cup Quarterfinal. With several key players returning to the side for them, SCC played to their strengths of adopting a more direct style of play, attempting to out muscle the evidently smaller SMU boys. SMU refused to back down and put in ferocious tackles to make SCC work hard for their break through. Eventually the bigger and stronger opponents from SCC managed to squeeze in 2 tries to win the game. While the City boys left the field clearly disappointed, they take heart that they lost to a much better team. The defeat set SMU up for an exciting mouth-watering clash in the Bowl Semi-final against their long time arch rival from Boon Lay - NTU. Final Score: SCC 10 - SMU 0

The heavy downpour delayed the Bowl Semi-final for nearly an hour. The lack of sleep and effects of the punishing schedule started to kick into the players. By the time the semi-final kicked out, SMU looked visibly tired. NTU were quick to capitalized on the sluggish looking SMU side and put pressure on them by camping in the City Boys' half for a large part of the match. With the clock ticking down, the prospect of playing in sudden death extra time loomed. Up till the the end of normal time, the City Boys just couldn't make any break through. With fatigue setting in for both teams, the SMU side were forced to dig deep into their reserves and they threw all they had at the Boon Lay Warriors in sudden death extra time. A weak clearance from NTU saw the ball land into the path of Alex Chew and he made a blistering run down the left hand side of the field to score the winning try. With that, SMU advanced into the Bowl Final. Final Score: SMU 5 - NTU 0

In what seemed to be a repeat of last year's Bowl Finals, SMU had to pit their strengths against top local rugby club Bedok Kings. Bedok Kings boasted a few National team players and the odds were stacked against SMU to retain their Bowl title. Brilliant work by the forwards to turnover the ball off kickoff allowed the backs to swing the ball out to winger Bryan Ng to score his 5th try of the tournament in as many games. With the City Boys putting up the score on the board early in the game, it was left to Bedok Kings to pile the pressure on SMU. But SMU stood their ground and defended well against their opponents. In the second half, Bedok Kings came out firing all cylinders and made numerous breaks, only to be stopped by last ditch tackles from the SMU backline, who were determined to stop Bedok Kings from scoring. It was in one of these last ditch tackles that saw our top scorer Bryan Ng earned the Toyata Play of the Day. Bryan was seen to be screaming along the lines of 'Let's destroy and f*c*king rape them!' after tackling a Bedok player out of the field. However, in his moment of fury, his chin hit one of his own team-mate Sylvain Buale and he fell down to the floor clutching his face in pain. The Malaysian referee stood there and admired Bryan's performance before proceeding to send off an innocent Bedok player who was standing nearby. In the dying minutes, Bedok did not show signs of backing down and continued to pile on the pressure. But it all provided too little too late, as the game ended with Derek Chan making a brilliant cover tackle to push Daniel Thiam out of the field in the last play of the day. With the whistle signaling the end of the game, the SMU team jumped for joy as they retained their Bowl title after a fiery encounter with Bedok Kings. Final Score: SMU 5 - Bedok Kings 0

When interviewed after the prize presentation, SMU skipper for the tournament, Daniel Marc Chow said, 'This is a perfect ending to the tournament. Credit must go to the entire team especially the new boys for rising up to the challenge. To be able to come to this tournament and beat some of the best teams in the country isn't an easy feat. This is a fantastic start to the season and we'll continue to work hard for the upcoming SUNIG 7s!'

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