Sunday, March 1, 2009

SMU Opens Tri-Unis Campaign With a 11-0 Victory Over NTU

SMU vs NTU (23rd Feb 2009)

Location: SPE

Scoreline: 11-0

Tries: Bryan Ng(1)
Penalties: Josiah Goh (2)

With inspirational skipper Daniel Marc Chow and ferocious flanker Lionel "Robber" Poh out with injuries in the week prior to this game, many pundits predicted that this was going to be a very tight game for SMU. Similarly, the Boon Lay Warriors were also dealt with a major blow to their Tri-Uni campaign with talented stand-off Xu Ren Han being ruled out with an ankle injury for the remainder of the season. This was gonna be a tough and intense game for both sides.

Straight from the kick off, NTU certainly sent out a powerful message when they surprised SMU by turning over possession at the breakdowns as well as driving the SMU forward pack back in the scrums. The Boon Lay Warriors managed to produce some real grunt in their scrum and screwed up the momentum for the City Boys. They made the defending champions look decidedly average and certainly a long way off last season's vintage. The City Boys were their own worst enemies at times. They made some uncharacteristics mistakes that resulted in them being pressured by NTU in their own half for a significant period of the game. The City Boys got a jump start when they were awarded 2 penalties in the first half which scrum-half, Josiah Goh, calmly slotted in to ease the pressure. At half time, the score was 6-0 to SMU.

The most redeeming feature for the SMU side was their change of attitude in the 2nd half. A half-time tactical change by Coach Rong Jing Xiang saw star winger Alex Chew and scrum-half Justin Lum coming on to replace Melvin 'Cheeky' Teo and Josiah Goh. With the substitutions made, there was a noticeable lift in the pace of the match. Justin Lum was able to provide the quick ball out that allow standoff Derek Chan to distribute the ball to the backline. With the score still standing at 6-0, the City Boys finally found the mark with their attack towards the end of the 2nd half when out-centre Desmond 'I'm F**ked Up' Wee broke up in the middle and allowed fellow Sea Games team-mate, Bryan Ng to crash over for a try to end the game 11-0 to SMU's favor.

Speaking to SMUrugby News at the end of the game, stand-in skipper Vickneswaran Sellathurai said, "We were lucky to get a victory here today. It was a below-par performance from us today, especially the forward pack. Credit to the NTU side for pushing us all the way. The only positive thing to take out of the game today was our defence. It is still early in the season and we still have a lot of work to do."

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