One Handed Push-up by Joby by Dad Bear
One Handed Push-up by Joby, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

CCAB, Singapore, 11th August 2011

In the second semi final of the 2011 C Division National Schools Rugby series, ACS (Independent) met Saint Joseph’s Institution (SJI), with the winner earning a chance to contest the final on Thursday week against surprise finalist, ACS (Barker). ACS (Barker) had earlier stunned tournament favorites Saint Andrew’s Secondary School 20-8 to reach their first final in since 2009.

It was a tale of two halves with ACS (I) clearly dominant in the first half. From the opening kickoff, they pinned SJI down in their own 22, for a good 10 minutes of the game. SJI relieved the pressure when they kicked for touch from a penalty conceded by the lads in blue and gold. Minutes later, it was ACS(I) who score first when their forward pack successfully drove over the try line. A successful conversion made the score 7-0. Minutes later, a decisive run by ACS (I)’s Jeremy Toh, saw him score his first try that evening. 12-0 ACS (I). In the first major incident of the game some 8 minutes from half time, SJI’s # 5 was shown the yellow card for repeated offsides. Leaving SJI with 14 men for the rest of the first half. Thereafter, It was ACS (I) Scrumhalf Kyler Wong’s turn next when he touched down for the third try, right in the SJI corner. Halftime score 17-0 to ACS(I).

During the break, SJI’s coaching staff could be heard spurring their charges on, telling them that they needed to want it more. In the other camp, Coach Adrian Chong was warning his troops that the first 10 minutes in the second half would be crucial. If SJI managed to get a quick score, that would put the ACS (I) lads under a whole lot of pressure as they searched for the equaliser.

When play restarted, it was ACS (I) who further increased their lead when Jeremy Toh again showed his sprinting prowess to outpace the SJI backline, scoring in the corner to make it 22-0 to ACS (I). From then on, with 25 minutes left on the clock, it was SJI turn to awaken from their slumber and ACS (I)’s to fall asleep. The men in Green and White suddenly upped their pace and their determination, whereas the lads from ACS (I) suddenly retreated into a shell and were waiting for final whistle to blow. The SJI lads attacked in waves. Causing numerous offsides and handling mistakes by the ACS (I) defenders. Scoring 2 tries in quick succession, the score soon read 22-14 with SJI still needing at least 2 more scores to nick the game. With 5 minutes to go, the referee showed the yellow card to 2 ACS (I) players for repeated fouling. Thereafter, leaving ACS (I) to defend their now-precarious lead with only 13 men. SJI roared on and but were constantly repelled by ACS(I) players who were prepared to throw their bodies into the battle to prevent SJI from scoring, However, the numerical advantages inadvertently showed when SJI breached a gap in the ACS(I) defences to score their 3rd try. No sooner did SJI convert their try, the referee who had a good game, blew for time. ACS (I) holds on to win by a single slender point, 22-21.

SJI has now reached 2 semi finals this year, in the B and C Divisions, this reflects the hard work that their coaches and players have put into their rugby teams. SJI fought tooth and nail today and were good value for their top 4 finishing in both divisions this year. They will meet Saint Andrews in the 3rd and 4th placings match next week.

The meeting next week between both ACS schools, Independent and Barker, will see a rematch of the 2009 final. Both teams know their opponents well, having frequently sparred together in pre-season. It should prove to be a thriller of a match if the preliminary match played earlier in the season is anything to go by. Then, ACS (I) pulled rabbit out of the hat with a try on virtually the last play of the game to win 20-15. The match would be nothing short of a local derby between 2 fierce competitors. One can only look forward to that match in keen anticipation as ACS(I) attempts to complete the coveted Grand Slam of National Schools Rugby, having already secured the A and B Division titles earlier in the year. One wonders if Barker will have the last word in that quest.

Final Score: ACS(I) 22 SJI 21

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