With the prospect of watching 7s superstars from the 7s world circuit such as Sonny Bill Williams, the Singapore Sports Hub was abuzz with excitement. The stage was set for both the Singapore Men’s and Women’s teams to duke it out with the Thai teams for the title of best in South-East Asia.
The Singapore Women’s team first locked horns with a Thai Women’s team that was rampant on Day 1. From the whistle, the ladies in red had little ball possession and the Thais were the ones calling the shots. It was apparent that the home team was resolute in defence. However, in attack, the Singapore Women’s team was not able to string together more than a handful of phrases due to handling errors. The Thais were quick to convert these errors into counter attack and utitlised their pace on the wings to punish the home team. At the final whistle, the Thais emerged victorious with a brutal scoreline of 42-0. This did not reflect the heart and bravery that the home team showed in defence, as the Thais did not get a chance to break the line in the middle of the park throughout the entire game.
The Singapore Men’s team then looked to give the home crowd something to cheer about as they took to the arena against a Thailand Men’s team that had firmly snuffed out a Philippines side filled with professional players. This time round, the home team looked a bit more composed, managing to show some skillful passages of play and security under high ball in the form of Charlie Teng Chong Yao. Try as they might, Singapore could not successfully utilise this possession against a very disciplined and resolute Thai defence. The Thais were then quick to size up the home team with two quick fire tries that came from silky runs in haphazard play. There was a glimmer of hope for the home crowd in the form of the omnipresent Nicholas Yau, when he busted through a sleeping Thai defence to put Singapore back in the game. However, this was not to be, as the Thai Team put one more try pass Singapore to put the game beyond doubt. At the final whistle, the Thai team emerged as the Men’s champion of SEA.
All in all, the Thailand teams deservedly clinched both the gold medals. However, the home teams had left it all on the field at an international event in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of young fans. While both Singapore Men’s and Women’s teams fell short at the final hurdle, the grit and passion they displayed proudly will definitely be inspiration for the up and coming youngsters of tomorrow.
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Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chiang