In a repeat of last year’s final, Wanderers RFC and Bucks RFC faced off once again last weekend at Turf City, both with points to prove. Narrowly losing out on the title last season with their first and only defeat of the campaign to the Bucks in the finals, the Wanderers hoped to open their account with a win. Title-holders Bucks RFC, however, coming off from a strong 21-14 win against the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) last weekend, looked not only to extend their lead at the top of the table, but prove that their status as champions was no fluke.
The late Saturday afternoon fixture promised to be a taxing one for both teams, the sweltering heat refusing to let up even as the day waned.
The Wanderers got off to a blistering start, winger Jonathan Wong and flanker Robert Riha going over for tries in the first 10 minutes. Scrum-half Damien Hoo crossed the try-line on the half-hour mark for the Wanderers to extend their lead, fly-half Ronald MacGregor knocking over his second conversion of the match to make the score 19-0.
However, the Bucks hit back quickly with a try of their own just two minutes later when a quickly taken penalty from 5 metres out caught the Wanderers napping, the Bucks stringing together 3 quick phases for No. 3 “GG” to go over in the corner. The Bucks kicker almost narrowed the gap by a further 2 points with a well struck conversion from a difficult angle, but hit the outside of the post, much to the glee of the crowd who were clearly enjoying the game despite the heat.
Half-time score: 19-5 to the Wanderers.
The second-half saw the Wanderers come out of the blocks at pace once again, a great punt from a penalty giving them a good attacking lineout in the Bucks 22. A well-worked set piece move saw them shift the ball across the pitch too fast for the defence to handle, allowing winger Tom Clarke to score in the corner.
Sustained pressure from the Bucks soon paid off however, as a line-out infringement saw Wanderers flanker Sebastian Murphy receive a yellow card. Great work from the Bucks forwards earned them a series of penalties, which they repeatedly put into the corner for the lineout, a tactic quickly vindicated as a strong maul sees them shove over for the try, lock Ed Rayfeild the scorer.
The Bucks continued to pile on the pressure, looking for a way back into the match. Great try-line defence by the Wanderers kept the Bucks at bay for a tense 10 minute period, but just like they did in the lead up to the previous try, the Bucks grab a penalty and kick it into the corner. Once again, they mauled their way over the line for another great try by the forwards, hard work during training clearly paying off as Ed Rayfeild crossed for his second of the day.
However, the Wanderers quickly snuffed out any hope of a comeback, bouncing back with a try from a good scrum just outside the 22, a good set piece move letting No.9 Damien in at the corner for a brace of his own. This was enough for the Wanderers to see out a hard-earned 33-15 victory, putting them at the top of the league.
Also played over the weekend were the Women’s Premiership games, as the Blacks took on the Bucks and both the Bedok Kings women’s teams, Skyllas Rhinos and Skyllas Wolves. The Blacks got their title-defence underway with a convincing 22-0 victory over Bucks RFC, Low Yuhui and Jayne Chan scoring tries in the first half, while Chan Jia Yu and Nur Shuhadah crossed the try line in the second.
Over at Yio Chu Kang Stadium, the Skyllas Wolves romped to a 65-0 rout of the Skyllas Rhinos, last year’s runners-up beginning their challenge for the title with a spectacular display. No. 15 grabbed an impressive hat-trick of tries, while no. 13 scored a brace. Wolves’ numbers 6, 3, 14, 4, 11 and 8 all crossed for tries of their own.
SRU National League Results
Bucks 15:33 Wanderers
Blacks RFC 32:0 Bucks RFC
Skyllas Rhinos 0:65 Skyllas Wolves
SCC Tankards 77:7 Wanderers Rovers
Wanderers Gents 28:22 Saints 2
Blacks RFC 56:7 Oldham Gold
Bucks 2 3:21 Gaulois
Oldham Blue 15:19 Bedok Kings 2
Championship Fixtures & Table: http://www.singaporerugby.com/calendar/2017-2018-championship-fixtures/
Women’s Premiership Fixtures & Table: http://www.singaporerugby.com/calendar/2017-2018-womens-fixtures/