After weeks of torrential rain, we finally had a weekend of typical Singapore sun and heat to play rugby in last weekend. Despite the substantial increase in temperature, not one bit of the intensity of the games was lost as all the matches played were edge-of-the-seat stuff. The Premiership saw a solitary match being played this week at Turf City, as Wanderers RFC 1st XV took on cellar dwellers Bedok Kings 1st XV. The Men’s Championship provided some entertaining rugby, while the Women’s League saw top of the table Bedok Kings Skyllas Wolves 1st XV taking on Bucks RFC Ladies 1st XV and bottom of the table Bedok Kings Skyllas Rhinos 2nd XV take on reigning champions Blacks Women’s RFC.
Last year’s runners-up Wanderers RFC came into this Premiership match aiming to pile on the misery on Bedok Kings 1st XV who only have a solitary win from three games thus far. Right from the start, Wanderers RFC exerted huge amount of pressure on the Kings as they camped in the latter’s half. From a lineout in Kings’ 22, good work from the Wanderers forwards saw them score the opening try of the game. Despite the perfect weather conditions for an open and flowing game of rugby, both sides played rather cautiously – tactical kicking was the go-to strategy from both sides as they sought to establish territorial dominance over the opposition.
Wanderers RFC, through their territorial dominance, managed to get another try. However it was not long before Kings got on the scoreboard with a penalty kick from right down the middle. Though the Kings had their moments in the first half, their inability to be ruthless cost them dearly as Wanderers scored 2 more tries. Right before the end of the first half however, Wanderers had one of their forwards sin-binned for a high tackle. With that, the first half ended 24-3 to Wanderers.
With Wanderers having to play the opening minutes of the 2nd half with 14 men, Kings should have smelt blood and seized the opportunity to exert some long overdue pressure on Wanderers RFC. Instead it was Wanderers, drawing on their experience as champions in successive years previously, who managed to draw first blood at the start of the 2nd half. The try was not converted. The game soon started to descend into a scrappy affair as Wanderers, perhaps due to their complacency, became very indisciplined and gave away a succession of penalties – they had 2 players sent to the sinbin in quick succession playing the game for a period of time with just 13 men. Bedok Kings managed to capitalise on this as they scored an unconverted try.
Towards the closing stages of the match, a minor altercation broke out as the replacement Wanderers scrumhalf took issue with a rub-crunching hit he sustained from a Kings player, which he might have thought to be slightly late. Soon after, another Wanderers forward was given the yellow card for repeated infringement by the team. Again, Kings managed to take advantage of this as they scored a lovely try under the post after some free running rugby. Scrumhalf Muhammad Azmi took a quick successful drop-kick conversion, in a bid to squeeze that little bit of time left for a restart to the game. However, it was too little too late for the Kings as that was the last action of the match. The game ended 29-15 in favour of Wanderers.
Both teams would have had reasons to be disappointed with their respective performances though. Even though Wanderers won the match, their lack of discipline would have cost them the victory on another day. On the other hand, Bedok Kings would be ruing not to have taken advantage of the Wanderers’ ill discipline.
Moving on to the Men’s Championship, glimpses of top drawer action were on offer as well. The highlight of the Men’s Championship was between league leaders Wanderers 2nd and 2nd from bottom Blacks RFC. The game ended 45-17 in favour of the league leaders. Blacks RFC had their chances, with miss passes from flyhalf Shaun Sin to Outside Centre Naz breaking the Wanderers 2nd backline on numerous occasions. However, their lack of cutting edge to actually put away the tries cost them dearly and painfully. In the end, it was only left to the individual brilliance of Shawn Lai through which Blacks RFC could register some points on the scoreboard.
In the Women’s division, normal service resumed as the top 2 teams managed to comfortably dispatch their bottom half counterparts – setting them up perfectly for the semi-finals this week.
As the season edges to its exciting closing stages, there are still lots of rugby to be played as all teams look to battle it out either for top honours or for personal pride in the SRU National Leagues. The Women’s semi-finals are the matches to look out for – and we cannot wait to see the ladies battle it out to earn the right to be in the final.
Photo Credits: Darrell Ho