Juggernaut

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Juggernaut by Dad Bear
Juggernaut, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

6th March 2012, CCAB, Singapore

Matchday 4 (rescheduled) of the B Division Rugby Tournament saw ACS(Independent) matched up against Greenridge Secondary School.

With the backdrop of the draw against Saint Andrews, the emphasis turned not only to just winning the remaining ties, but to accumulate as many points as possible, in a bid to finish at the top of the table.

The lads were given strict instructions to go for the jugular and to hit the magic 80 point mark asap. A strong team lined up against Greenridge at kickoff. The modus operandi was simple. Win the ball, spread it wide, let the wingers burn down the tram lines. It was all business as ACS(I) raced rapidly to a 61-0 HT lead. It might have been more, if not for some wasteful kicking during the conversions.
In the second half, Greenridge were awarded a penalty just past the centre line. Greenridge elected to take a shot at goal, but pulled the kick wide. With that went their chance of breaking the egg, as ACS(I) wrapped up the tie with 3 swiftly taken tries beneath the posts.
FT 80-0 to ACS(I) by mercy rule.

Points to the match:

1) A clinical and efficient performance. Nothing spectacular or highlight reel worthy, Well worth the 80-0 scoreline. Greenridge players were clearly overawed and were asking the ref repeatedly, as to how much time was left to the end of the first half.

2) Conversion kicks were split between GL and JC. One word, inconsistent. They can nail the toughest and widest kicks, and yet miss the sitters. The best solution apart from improving kicking stats and technique, would be for the players to consciously aim to score beneath the posts, making the conversion easier.

3) There appeared to still be some doubt or lack of confidence when the ball is ‘hands’ or passed out wide quickly. There was still the occasional dropped ball, but more importantly the lack of confidence in taking the ball all the way into the end-zone. Sometimes, straight and hard running is the best answer.

4) Apart from a throw which was deemed not straight, the rest of the lineouts were efficient with nice take downs. The forwards also managed to steal a number of the Greenridge lineouts.

5) Our players must learn to protect the ball and not waste possession, in particular against better opposition. Learning to make better decisions like when to look for an offload or when to pass the ball out wide. Also, when not to grubber/chip the ball, when that would lead to a loss in possession. Simply put, they must learn to make the right choice at the right time. Easier said than done, unfortunately. It just boils down to one thing, experience.

6) Scrums were competent. Nothing much more to add.

7) Saints defeated SJI 27-0 in an earlier match at Republic Polytechnic. This meant that while both ACS(I) and Saints remain unbeaten and are currently only separated by virtue of points scored, with ACS(I) currently having a superior point difference.

8) The last remaining spot for the semi finals will be ultimately determined when SJI plays against RI on Matchday 7 of the competition. Based on currently form, and the availability of players from injuries and suspension, it will be tight game that could go either way.

9) While optimally, we always prefer to have a say as to who we will meet for the semis or the finals. However, that is just wishful thinking, and we can only play to whoever is in front of us on the pitch. The only thing we can do now is to win the rest of our matches, and come what may in the semis and hopefully the finals, we will let our opponents worry about us, rather than the other way round. We can only pray to God to continue to watch over us and keep our lads healthy and ready.

Incidentally, according to the Webster dictionary, A juggernaut is defined as – a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path. A fitting description, no?

More pictures from this set can be seen here at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629165469032/

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Dead Heat

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Dead Heat by Dad Bear
Dead Heat, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

27th February, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore

Matchday 6 of National Schools B Division Rugby Tournament, saw a top of the table clash between ACS(I) and Saint Andrew’s Secondary School. Both schools boasted an unblemished 4-0 record going into the game and were keen to maintain their clean slate.

Saints kicked off the first half, and were the faster team to settle into the rhythm of play. ACS(I) looked edgy and off colour, possibly with a few players returning from suspension and injury, and a few nursing knocks, swollen limbs and also gastroenteritis.
Saints employed their rush tactics very well, and did not give the ACS(I) players anytime on the ball. ACS(I) tried to counter this by chipping into the space behind the onrushing player. This led to a virtual stalemate as both teams exchanged possession, knock-ons and also penalties. ACS(I) received a penalty in the midfield area and found touch 10m out. Inexplicably, ACS(I) chose to take a quick line out, and ended up losing the ball, as their players were also caught by the surprise decision to take the quick throw. The Saints forward accepted the present in glee, sprinting into the clear, before chipping it smartly forward where the ball was collected by another Saints player, who scored next to the posts. A successful conversion meant that we had a 7-0 hole to climb out off. This was only the first try conceded by the ACS(I) team in the competition so far, but it was no doubt a bone-headed try to concede. There was no need to rush, least of all when nobody was communicating with each other. The try woke the ACS(I) lads up, and they were soon awarded a penalty 20m out and fairly central. This time, Joshua Chan meekly pulled the ball wide, Score still 0-7. From one of the few chances to break the line, ACS(I) finally strung a few passes together to release Joel Lim on the wing. Unfortunately he never received any support from the rest of the team, which saw him hesitate about 10 m from the try line. That momentary hesitation allowed the Saints defence to get their hands on him, and they won a penalty when Joel was adjudged to not release the ball fast enough. Opportunity gone. The referee then blew for half time not long after. HT Saints lead 7-0.

In the second half, ACS(I) increased their tempo of play and surged forward in search of an equalizing try. The opportunity came when Richard Keim, who was a pale shadow of his usual self today, took the ball from the base of the scrum, broke a couple of tackles before touching down in the end-zone. It was his most significant contribution for the day as the young man was suffering from non-stop diarrhea over the last 48 hours. With the conversion, the score stood at 7-7. Game on! From the resulting kick off, Saints then put ACS(I) under a truckload of pressure. A penalty for offside was awarded to Saints, near the touchline about 30m out. Saints elected to take the kick, but skewed it wide. Pressure temporarily off. However the ACS(I) ‘dropped ball menace’ hung around and they were not able to capitalise from good field positions, in particular after kicking to touch from penalties earned against the Saints. Play swung to and fro, with no side able to make the incisive thrust. Saints were then awarded a penalty midway through the second half halfway between the right post and the corner flag. The penalty went wide right, but was dropped by the ACS(I) standoff. In the resulting 5 m scrum, ACS(I) managed to win the ball back and clear their lines. Opportunity over for Saints. Again the tides of battle turned. Saints conceded a penalty late on on their 22m line. With less than 5 minutes on the clock, it was ACS(I) chance to clinch the match. Unfortunately, nerves set in, as Fullback GeLiang dragged the kick just wide of the right upright. Chance gone a-begging. ACS(I) pressed hard in the last minutes to clinch the win, but a knock-on from a scrum 10 meters from the line, on the left flank, puts paid to all hopes of a last-ditch victory. The referee blew for full time immediately after that. FT 7-7. Both teams retain their undefeated start, with ACS(I) still in first place because of a superior point difference.

Key points from the match:

1. Our boys look very flat today. They looked as if they had lead in their shoes and their hands were coated with grease. There was an element of self-doubt in the backs. When they were hitting their stride and gunning for the line, they should have just gone for the line without looking around for support or hoping to get an offload off. If there was anyone supporting (and yesterday there was none usually), the supporting player should communicate by shouting out, “I am behind you”, or something to the like. No doubt some of the players were rusty, having returned from injury and suspensions, while others were physically ill. However, the players need to make sure they themselves are disciplined enough to get enough rest. Diet and nutrition is also important, the players need to stay well hydrated and be very wary of what they eat. A bout of severe diarrhea or gastroenteritis just days before a critical match is not a nice thing to have to endure.

2. Learning to be calm and composed. Against a team like Saints who are fast to punish mistakes and have the pace to exploit gaps, the lads must learn to be cool and calculated. No doubt there are times to take a fast lineout, but at least do it where everyone on the team is on the same page, and there are NO opponents in the vicinity. Taking a quick lineout and getting intercepted, is just as good as committing rugby suicide. Absolutely needless and in effect, it is really like a 14 point swing. From being potentially 7 points up to being 7 points down. It was a lesson learnt, and thankfully not fatal. Just very painful.

3. Scrums and Lineouts. We held our own in the scrums but were clearly not dominating. Credit to Saints for having a well oiled forward pack. We had difficulty winning their scrums and won only 1 at the key moment when they were knocking on our door 5 metres out from our tryline. In their lineouts, Saints used the back pod very well, and apart from a few one-sided throws, we did not really contest their lineouts. On our own ledger, we did not lose any of our scrums but were not allowed much space to run after each scrum as Saints pressed forward incessantly. We lost two of our own lineouts (the first leading to the Saints try) but otherwise, lineouts were fairly well done.

4. Rucks and Mauls. We defended very well. If anything, our lads tackled brilliantly, and never really gave Saints any linebreaks. The ACS(I) lads defended in packs, and there was always someone to provide supporting cover in case someone slipped a tackle. Also to our credit, our forwards had a field day in the balls stolen column. We stole no less than 7-8 balls from open play, and this was a good springboard to break out of defence and for scoring potential points in the opponents half. Kudos to the coaching staff for the many rucking sessions which are now seemingly paying dividends.

5. Kicking. Again kicking to touch remained very well done. Our kickers have no problem finding touch. It is when you put a pair of posts in front of them do they suddenly develop an allergy to the points. We had 2 very makable kicks from just off-central positions. We fluffed our lines. Well, then again, so did Saints. They had a pair of kicks to win the game, but missed both by the odd country mile. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the kickers. It’s easy to be a sideline commentator, and I know how much pressure they, the kickers, are under. However, we have said over and over again, one day this kicking thing will come back to bite us in the butt. Today, it bit, and thankfully, we still did not lose the game. 3 weeks to the match against Barker, enough time to get some real pressure kicking training under the belts.

6. Dropped Balls. Yesterday we saw millions of drops balls. Pass wide….dropped ball. Hit hard in the tackle, dropped ball. The lads must really look to protect the ball better.

7. Refereeing. Yesterday’s ref had a good game. Sure he might not have seen EVERYTHING, but when he did, he called the game in a even manner. He gave penalties against both teams when he needed to and was not afraid to give an advantage if there was still possession and ground gained. Let’s us pray for similar refereeing standards in the future.

8. Balance. We must continue to pray that the boys will be able to find a balance between their rugby, books, health and rest, and that God will always look out for them.

9. There is a saying, “Nothing has changed yet everything has changed.” We are still top of the table, but Saints now have the scent of blood in their noses. They savored the taste of victory in their lips, only to have us snatch it away from them. Like us, they will be analyzing their videos and playbooks to identify the areas that they can improve on. The next time we meet, we hope it will be in the final.

10. Communication. There must be better communication when the backs communicate with the forwards, between the backs themselves and also between the forwards themselves. Everyone must be on the same page. No point kicking the ball back to the opponents when you have a 4v3 man advantage. Likewise, If you are just kicking for the sake of kicking, why do it when almost all the rest of your teammates are offside or retreating from a ruck. Bascially, the lads should talk to each other more. Failure to do so will be tragic.

11. Brilliant atmosphere. The game was played in an excellent albeit tense atmosphere between both sets of players. There was mutual respect, but no fear. The handshakes at the end of the match were genuine with no malice intended at all during the course of the game. A good advertisement for the Schools rugby in Singapore!

12. Jock Tiernan, former ACS(I) Rugby coach, wrote in a post on the ACS(I) Rugby FB page on 27/2/2012 after the match, “It takes a good team to play badly and still win – compare the skills displayed with that of saints – eliminate the mistakes and which team is better suited to win”. We didn’t win today, but we surely did not lose. Game on!

More pictures from the match can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629108262244/with/6791282506/

Past Demons Banished

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Past Demons Banished by Dad Bear
Past Demons Banished, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

On Matchday 5 of the B Division Rugby Tournament, ACS(I) took to the field against the auld enemy, Raffles Institution. The tie holds many sentimental and emotional attachments to students and parents alike, and in every sporting calendar featuring the two great schools, it has always been the single most anticipated fixture. Nothing matters more than to have one up over the bitter rivals. And in this year’s edition in the rugby B Division preliminary rounds, it was no different. The sides that faced each other on that cloudy overcast day in Woodlands, were made up largely of players who contested in the C Division final 2 years ago. On that day in 2010, RI, with the aid of many questionable refereeing calls, coupled with a superb rearguard defensive display, had emerged champions that fateful year, defeating ACS(I) 8-5, breaking a streak of 13 consecutive C Division crowns that ACS(I) had chalked up since 1996. Since then, many changes had occurred. new players were added to strengthen the squad on both sides. Then-head coach, Rhys Jones, left RI, to take up a position on the coaching staff at ACS(I), alongside Coach Adrian Chong. There were also many players on the RI side, who played their primary school rugby in ACS(Junior) under Coach Chong, and were classmates and buddies of many players in the current ACS(I) squad. Indeed, there was definitely no love lost between both sets of players.

ACS (I) was quick of the mark when they drew first blood early in the first half, when Richard Keim stormed over the try line. A series of probing runs down both flanks nearly resulted in ACS(I) extending their lead, but to no avail as RI defended resolutely. ACS(I) extended their lead when RI conceded a penalty for offside, which Joshua Chan kicked sweetly to extend the lead to 8-0. the game then became scrappy as both teams gave up possession easily through lost lineouts, forward passes and knock-ons. There were no further scoring as the half time whistle went.

In the second half, RI started strongly. They pinned the ACS(I) team to their own try line, and only through determined defence did the lads in Gold and Blue manage to repel the surging waves of green attackers. Against the run of play, ACS(I) won the ball in a counter-ruck and broke out of defence. In a surging run, Richard Keim broke 3 tackles, and spun the ball out wide, into the hands of Matthew Quek, who outsprinted the remaining RI defenders to score, converted again with much aplomb by Joshua Chan. ACS(I) leads 15-0. Richard Keim who was starting his first match this season, then kicked a sumptuous grubber into the end zone, for Winger Daniel Ho to tap down for the score. The conversion kick, from way out in the wings, sailed through the middle of the posts, ACS(I) leads 22-0. That score effectively killed off the match as a competitive contest. Both teams rang in the changes, and brought on substitutions. The game slowly fizzled out to a quiet end, but not before Joshua Chan made another penalty. FT 25-0.

Key pointers from the game:

1. Defence. Today we saw our defence tested seriously for the first time. RI were no mugs, they were winners in their own right, and they wanted to win. Our lads stood tall in defence, and were willing to put bodies behind the ball when it counted. Credit must be given to the coaching staff for the amount of attention given to rucking drills. Back in 2010, when we lost to RI in the C Div final, we were second best in the rucks. RI won a majority of the loose balls during the breakdown of play then, but not this time. Our lads were tigers in their tenacity in wanting the ball. We won numerous balls from counter rucks, and many of our points came as a result of this. When RI seriously threatened during the early phase of the second half, the lads never buckled under the pressure. They knew what they had to do. They knew that if they stood together, the sum of the parts was greater than the individual. Saints will play a very forward based game next week, and they will slow ball all the way if they can. They are also very quick to rush the defence, especially the kickers, having already scored at 2 tries from charge downs in the last 2 matches alone. We will have to exploit their weakness and remain steadfast against their onslaught.

2. Offence. Three very different but very good tries. Speed is of the essence and we must continue to show this, especially against Saints next week. Speed of thought and decision being the most critical, and showing the ability to make the right decision at the right time.

3. Kicking. One word. Stellar. While kicking from the hand had always been exemplary, kicking for points was a totally different matter. And what a far cry from the performance against the earlier teams! Credit must be given for Joshua Chan in being able to keep a calm head despite all the pressure. His ability to nail those kicks against RI that day, showed a much matured head on those young shoulders of his. Especially the conversion from the wing after try #3. The weight and direction of the kick was judged to perfection, given that there was a slight cross wind breeze blowing that day. Keep it up, Pom!

4. Lineouts and Scrums. We won all but one of our own lineouts, and there were no one-sided throws. We contested and even won more than 50% of RI lineouts. Impressive stats. Great job….again! In the scrums, we were NOT dominating. We were seen to be wheeled repeatedly, and while we won most of our scrums, even that became a problem in the latter part of the game, when fatigue probably set in. This must not happen against Saints next week. Saints scrumming has been top-notch from what we have seen in the earlier rounds, and also during pre-season games. They have big powerful forwards who will give our forwards a tough time if everyone does not pull their weight. Bernard Chan made his long awaited return from injury. While he showed a little rustiness and maybe a lack of sharpness, he displayed the same tenacity and courage we know he is capable of. A couple more matches under his belt and he will be right as rain. He has in YuQiang, a capable replacement in that position.

5. Intensity. Many of the players were drenched in sweat after the game. It was obvious that they were playing at a higher intensity than the earlier games. They showed the desire to win, and to win as a team. This was very heartening to the parents and supporters in the stands.

6. Penalties. Fortunately, in this match, ACS(I) conceded no major penalties in their own part of the pitch. Perhaps in their over-enthusiasm to win the ball back, they were often guilty of poor discipline. Namely, not rolling away, not releasing, coming from the side etc.  All these were very clear from my position behind the lens. They must learn to control their tempers and bide their time as silly penalties conceded will be very costly if lost in the wrong part of of the pitch, especially if in front of our own posts.

7. The Monkey. Yes, the 800lb gorilla that sits on the back of everyone of the 2010 C Div squad (and probably their parents as well) since August 2010, has well and truly been banished. The boys played with belief today and played as a team. They have indeed come a long way since those days of tears and disappointment.

Apart from the rearranged Matchday 4 match vs Greenridge Sec School on March 6th, we have a few big matches still to go. Every one a cup final in its own right. Beginning with the cracker against Saints next Monday 27/2/2012, 3pm, at Republic Polytechnic. That match promises to define the season. Meantime, we can only just pray for our boys to stay healthy. That they will get enough rest, while balancing their schoolwork, amidst all the tornado of thoughts going through their minds. We also pray for the speedy return of key players like Daniel, Ben and Geliang. That they too will be able to get match fit as soon as possible.

For more pictures from the match, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629429799487/

Head-on Collision

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Head-on Collision by Dad Bear
Head-on Collision, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

13/2/2012, Republic Polyclinic, Singapore,

On Matchday 3 of the B division Rugby tournament, ACS(I) played Pioneer Secondary School. On Matchday 1, PSS had held heavyweights Raffles Institution to a mere 37-0 win, and in doing so, gained much respect from the other teams in the league.
Taking the opportunity to rest certain players, it was a different ACS(I) team which took to the pitch compared to the one which started against SJI. To their credit, PSS never showed that they were intimidated. They had a few big forwards in their ranks who were not scared to run with the ball. In the opening exchanges, PSS appeared comfortable in possession and also very adept at kicking. It was however, the boys from Dover who adapted faster to the plastic pitch on RP, scoring the first try down the left wing. From then on, there was no looking back as ACS(I) attacked relentlessly. Forcing errors in the PSS backline. PSS only reply was through a penalty 30m out in front of the posts which they converted easily. HT ACS(I) led 36-3.
The second half begin in the same vein as the first as the lads in stripes opened up their throttles. With the lead comfortably in the 60’s, Coach A decided to ring in a whole host of substitutions, no doubt resting key players for the tough series of fixtures next week against RI and Saints. With the new additions, play became a little disjointed on the ACS(I) side. In fact the only real incident worthy of mentioned happened in the 75th minute, when full back Ngen Geliang, delayed his pass out wide to the waiting receiver, and was intercepted by the PSS defence. The PSS player ran the length of the pitch before he was brought down by covering defender, Shi Chenghao, who deserved mention for his industrious work throughout the match and also his never-say-die attitude in getting back to make that vital tackle. If PSS had actually scored that try, that would have made it the first try conceded by ACS(I) in this year’s tournament, and for sure, PSS would have celebrated it like they had won the match, but it was not to be. From the resulting series of plays, the match fizzled out to a conclusion with no further scoring. FT ACS(I) 75 PSS 3

Points to take away from the match:

1) It was a good run out for certain players, in particular, scrumhalf, Liew YQ. He ran well, and was able to distribute the ball decently. He fed the ball decently into the scrum, and showed the coaches he deserved his place. Another person who did well off the bench was Evandee, who as the #8 man, carried the ball well at the opposition.

2) Our lineouts were rock solid, however we clearly did not dominate the scrums, especially in last quarter of the game. No doubt the regular props were off the game, it was quite surprising to see our pack being wheeled, not to mention being driven back by the PSS pack. Saints will offer a whole new challenge next week. Their scrums have been hitting hard and fast on the draw. Possibly borne from hard work done by the new foreign coach hired by Saints.

3) Our kicking remains, in a word, erratic. Perhaps it did not matter much on the day, but practice makes perfect. Let us hope come crunch time when we need to make a few more of those kicks, our kickers will rise to the challenge. It is really puzzling when they can nail one from the side and yet miss one just a little off the centre. Our boys would do well to be aware of their surroundings and try to touch the ball down between the posts whenever the opportunity arises. This will greatly reduce the pressure on the kicker.

4). The players emerged injury free, and with each passing day, we look forward to the return of stalwarts, Daniel, Bernard and Justin from their rash of upper limb injuries.

5). A footnote on the referee. It was again Mr Singh who was the man in the middle. No doubt this match was one sided, but there were calls that only he saw that no one else did. He could not see players coming in from the side, not releasing the tackler, diving etc, but could see knock ons from players who did not even touch the ball. One word, BAFFLING. Yet, it is sad that there is no recourse if a ref had a baad game. The SRU should send someone who is rated higher or with more experience, especially in games where more is at stake and titles are on the line.

Our season really only begins next Tuesday when we play RI on the 21st Feb. Without looking too far ahead of ourselves, that match and the match against Saints will be a good measuring yardstick of how well prepared we are, and how hungry we are as a team, in retaining the B Div crown. As it is, we are now heading for a head-on collision.

More photos can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629316437883/

Big Strides

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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/

Opening Gambit

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Opening Gambit by Dad Bear
Opening Gambit, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

2nd February 2012, CCAB, Singapore – A new season, a new beginning, new heroes and new zeroes. Thus begins a new season of Schools rugby, with the boys in the B division first up to the plate.

In the first match of their quest to retain the B division crown, ACS(I) met Junyuan Secondary School. It was cool wet evening at CCAB when the match kicked off at 1630h. First match jitters was definitely on the menu as the lads in gold and blue attempted and just failed on the short kick off. The wet ball did not help matters as handling errors resulted in promising moves breaking down. Not till the 9th minute when FB Joshua Chan scythed through the JY defence with a pacy blistering diagonal run, did ACS(I) settle into their task. Perhaps, it was their over-anxiety in the beginning,but by half time, the engine in the juggernaut was purring smoothly. HT 41-0.
In the second half, the ACS(I) coaches had to make changes to the lineup with the injury to winger, Justin Tan. With the introduction, there arose some confusion amongst the ranks with regards to calls and positioning. However, superior fitness saw through the day, with the ACS(I) lads soon getting the measure of the JY defence. The only serious incident of note in the match came in the middle of the second half, when JY #37 threw a punch at ACS (I) flanker, Isaiah Teh. The referee who was just metres away from the incident, had no option (after discussion with the touch judge) but to award a straight red to the JY player for violent conduct. It was a blot to the JY team’s report card, who were otherwise playing decent and fair rugby, albeit being out-gunned in every department. FT 79-0

Take home points.

1) A good but slightly unconvincing start to the season for ACS(I) B Div squad. A wee bit jittery in the opening minutes, but otherwise solid in most departments.
2) Scrums were solid without much opposition.
3) Lineouts were clinical and efficient. Severely disrupting the JY lineout the whole day.
4) Rucking was strong. Caveat is that the opposition didnt counter-ruck very much either.
5) Kicking from the hand was outstanding. Kickers found touch or excellent field position with every kick.
6) Conversion kicking, especially from out wide, remains abysmal. The fear is that one day, it will come back to haunt us and bite us in the butt, especially in closely contested games against stronger opposition.
7) Ball handling can be improved. There were many times when our players upon being tackled, were over eager to offload the ball quickly. So much so that the pass was rushed and often awry. Sometimes, a more conventional red ball, going down and setting up the ruck, before recycling the ball again, makes more sense as compared to making a poor pass (sometimes forward) and losing possession completely.
8) Justin’s injury resulted when he chased down a sweet long clearance from defence. The ball bounced high and irregularly in front him, causing him to knock it on. Justin tried in vain to retrieve the ball before it hit the ground, lost his balance, resulting in a collision with the JY player, which say him landing badly on his dominant left hand/wrist. There was a bad swelling immediately after the incident, and x-rays after the game showed a fracture just above the wrist. We wish Justin a speedy recovering and hope he can return for the closing matches of the competition.
9) There will be stronger and fitter opponents in the coming weeks. We can only hope that the boys remain healthy and fit. As the saying goes, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man!”

More pictures from the match can be here at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157629150360855/

Kah Yi Wraps Him Up!

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Kah Yi Wraps Him Up! by Dad Bear
Kah Yi Wraps Him Up!, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

Lightning, thunder and heavy rains blanketed the skies around Singapore in the hours leading up to the match. However, the heavens cleared up minutes before kickoff, allowing for the game to proceed, albeit with a 15 minute delay,
This was the return leg of series of test matches between perennial rivals RI and ACS. ACS(I) had earlier dominated the first leg with a clear victory back in November. With nothing but just pride and bragging rights at stake, both teams took the the wet astroturf pitch, with an eye to securing a psychological advantage over the auld enemy before the the season proper begins in a few weeks time.
RI kicked off and were parked inside the ACS 22 for the first 10 minutes of the game before ACSI slowly turned the pressure on and advanced up the pitch. From a scrum out in the RI 5 m line, it was a quick hands which saw the ball swung over to ACS captain and winger Matthew Quek, to went over for the opening try. From a line break by MQ again, it was Centre Shi ChengHao who sliced through the RI backline to score between the posts, and converted with aplomb by Stand-in centre Joshua Chan. With regular Ngen Geliang nursing a mild illness, it was JC and Darius Ng who shared out the duties in the centre of the park in the first half. HT 12-0 to ACS(I)
In the second half, RI came out with all cylinders firing. They tried to force the issue and attacked incessantly. Yet it was ACS(I) who soaked up the pressure before again releasing Centre Shi Chenghao to score his second try near the left corner. The final ACS(I) try that came 10 minutes from time was a real beauty which drew applause from the fans, both RI and ACS alike. From a ACS scrum 15 metres out on the right wing, the ball came out to Ngen Geliang who had come on to stretch his legs. The maestro kicked a cross field ball away from the madding crowd, perfectly placed and right into the waiting hands of the swarming ACS(I) backs, who exchanged passes neatly before sending Winger Joel Lim over at the corner.
With multiple changes made in the ACS (I) squad, it was a very different squad which finished the game. RI scored a consolation try with 3 minutes to go. However, by then the result was already beyond doubt.
Final Score RI 5 ACS(I) 22

Take away pointers
1. ACS Players showed very good hands and handling, esp the backs.
2. The lineouts today were outstanding. The boys won their lineouts convincingly and were disrupting the RI lineouts at will.
3. Scrumming today was fine, but not dominating as we have come to expect from our pack.
4. Kicking for points was again dodgy. No doubt we often score more points from tries, but with points at a premium in big matches like the Finals and semis, a ratio of 1:4 success is not much to crow about.
5. Referee RS had a suspect game. He failed to see many infringements and when he did call, he could have done better by explaining to players why they were penalised, which he did only inconsistently.
6. The intensity that the ACS boys played at was very good.
7. RI might have been beaten again, but they were clearly a better side than the one that visited ACS in Nov 2011. They will be back, and I expect a stiffer challenge the next time they meet. RI is simply too good a team to take this lying down.
8. We were very glad to have Richard Keim back after hisr recovery from injury. We hope to see stalwarts Daniel Goh and Bernard Chan back soon. Better late than never.

More pictures from the match can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157628963347191/with/6734776489/

 

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