Big Strides by Dad Bear
Big Strides, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

7/2/2012, CCAB, Singapore

In Matchday 2 of the the 2012 B Division Rugby Tournament, ACS(I) took to the field against the dark horses of the tournament, St Joseph Institution. SJI had surprised everyone in 2011 by qualifying for both the B and C division Rugby semi finals, losing both times to ACS(I). IN the C Division semi-final, it was just a one point win for ACS(I). So to say that SJI rugby had taken big strides in the right direction would be an understatement. In taking their place in both semi-finals, SJI had usurped RI’s position in the top 4 of local rugby schools. There was therefore some anxiety amongst the fans in the stands as we watched the boys take t the pitch. SJI had lost a close match to ACS(Barker) 3-8 in their season opener.

Still missing tighthead prop Daniel Goh for another month at least and Scrumhalf Bernard Chan for at least 2weeks, it was otherwise a full strength ACS(I) team that took to the field.
To their credit, SJI was never daunted. They were up for the challenge and showed that they were not afraid to kick for points. In the 7th minute, they drew first blood when they nailed a penalty for a early 3-0 lead. The ACS(I) lads responded gamely with 2 rapid tries. SJI made 2 further penalties to keep within touching distance. It was frustrating to see the ACS(I) give away so many penalties, Some of the decisions were very obvious while others were more dubious. However, the fitness of the ACS(I) started to tell in the hot afternoon, as they stretched their lead with 2 more tries before halftime. HT 20-9.
In the second half, after a a pep talk from the coaches, the ACS(I) engine moved smoothly through the gears as the passing became slick, with good support behind the runners, More importantly, the boys in gold and blue were conceding fewer penalties. A total of 3 in the second half compared to 6 in the first. SJI barely had a sniff of the ACS final 22, and were camped in their half with their backs to the wall. Persistent pressure saw the tiring SJI defence concede another 5 tries in the second half, with the final score 55-9.

Take home pointers:

a) Ball handling was much better in this game compared to the their showing in Matchday 1.
b) Lineouts and scrums were strong and clinical. SJI hardly had a look-in the whole afternoon.
c) Penalties. 6 in the first half. If they were all in our half and in front of our pots, that could be 18 points. Surely a massive hole to climb out of. Especially if we had conceded the penalties against teams like Saint Andrews and RI. In the second half, ACS(I) only conceded 3 penalties. This was probably due to better awareness and better discipline. Something that really need to be emphasized on in the coming games. All it takes is a little more positional and tactical awareness, and of course self control. After all, after having played rugby for so long, the players should know where the gate to enter the ruck is and when to roll away after a tackle. Simple things to be aware off, no rocket science there.
d) Kicking conversions was a tale of 2 halves. In the first half, we missed all 4 of our conversions (or 8 points), granted they were from the sides, it was painful to watch. In the second half, we made all 5 of the kicks, including a few way to the sides. So we know that we can kick, just that we are not very consistent. Maybe some form of challenge during practice amongst the kickers could be introduced during kicking practice. This would make every practice kick mean something. Otherwise, the mindset would always be one of “its ok, it only a practice kick” mentality. An old sage once said, practice like the real thing, and play the real thing like a practice match. Much truth in that little phrase.
e) It was heartening to see our players emerged unscathed from the match, After the recent spate of forearm and wrist fractures, a game without any mishaps was greatly welcome, by players, coaches and parents alike.
f) Ability to start fast and hit the ground running. Something which we have not shown so far in the two matches. Hopefully they will get it right against the better teams

More pictures can be seen here at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629228707209/

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