The team of 24 players left the causeway to play an U19 international friendly match against Malaysia as part of the Asia Rugby U19 Division 1 preparations.
Led by U19 Captain Ryan Sek from Bedok Kings, the team is quietly confident of their own ability.
‘We headed out with the objective of achieving a win and getting more bonded as a team. We could feel from the get go that everyone is committed to the objective,’ added the captain.
The game started with Singapore gaining possession in the early exchanges. Singapore had a chance to take an early lead through out centre Xavier Ducorneau but his effort went wide. Through some clever kicking from their flyhalf, Malaysia then struck back wave after wave of attack but Singapore’s resilience defence kept their causeway rivals at bay.
Through a turnover, inside centre Zuriel Chua made a 40m break from his own 5m line and offloaded to flanker Ghalib Samir muscling his way into the Malaysian half. This courageous effort resulted in a kickable penalty for Singapore. Fullback Luca Mignot made no mistake this time round to give Singapore 3-0 after 15 minutes.
The hosts came alive again from the restart and this time earned a penalty of their own. But their efforts went wide to give the visitors some breathing space. The score remained the same as Singapore held onto a slender 3-0 lead at halftime.
The game restarted with Singapore kicking into the Malaysian half. Singapore made more headway in the second half but the unforced errors in the wet weather were not helping. A 3-0 was definitely not enough as Malaysia soon took the lead for the first time after a series of pick and goes saw them score under the posts. Malaysia easily converted to make the score 7-3, 10 minutes into the second half. The score gave Malaysia an extra boost as they searched for a second score. They were duly rewarded with a another try as Malaysia bounced on a loose ball from a line out to increase the lead. At 12-3, Singapore looked dead and buried with 12 minutes remaining.
With nothing to lose, several positional changes that involved fullback Luca Mignot moving to flyhalf, this resulted in vice captain Ezekiel Soh from inside centre to flyhalf, substitute Harish Rai came in to cover fullback and lastly, winger Kieran Wong moving back to his more familiar position at no.8. This gave Singapore more resolve in attack as Xavier Ducorneau put substitute winger Kim Hunk through in the wider channels close to the tryline . After being stopped short, a series of pick and goes saw Kieran Wong scoring to reduce the lead to 12-8.
Against a tiring Malaysian pack, Singapore managed to turn over a Malaysian put in. The subsequent scrum saw Xavier Ducorneau charging towards the try line after Luca Mignot put him through a well worked decoy move with Ezekiel Soh. Unfortunately he had the ball stripped from him close to the line giving the Malaysians some breathing space.
Not giving up, Singapore managed to force a turnover resulting in a 5m scrum for the visitors. Through the ensuing scrum, Kieran Wong added his second try of the game as he scored a classic no.8 try at the back of the scrum. Luca Mignot made the conversion count as Singapore took the lead at 15-12 with minutes remaining.
Malaysia managed to gain a penalty within range to tie the score however the efforts sailed wide of the posts. The score remained the same as Singapore were 15-12 victors in a nail biting finish.
An ecstatic Vice Captain Ezekiel Soh from Saints RFC thoughts on the game:- ‘Without any worries of how the Malaysians were going to play, we controlled what we could, went out there, played our game and executed whatever we practiced that was sufficient. Playing together with great camaraderie and character, we blew the Malaysians off the park in the last 12 minutes.’ He added ‘I’m proud of the boys who were hungry for the win, meeting our team goals. For me, the game was simply a bunch of really talented players putting on their ‘A’ game and making a statement for Singapore Rugby.’ A very happy Ryan Sek had the final word on the tour, ‘The trip has been a resounding success having accomplished both objectives. But beyond that, the spirit shown encapsulates what the game is all about, to never give up and to always press on.’