School sports: Showing who's the boss in rugby

ACS(I) winger Benjamin Poey sprinting past the despairing dive of Saints' stand-off Miguel Erwin Besoro William to seal the title. His side were fired up for the showdown especially after Saints won 22-0 earlier. The Saints had a chance to take the l
ACS(I) winger Benjamin Poey sprinting past the despairing dive of Saints' stand-off Miguel Erwin Besoro William to seal the title. His side were fired up for the showdown especially after Saints won 22-0 earlier. The Saints had a chance to take the lead late in regulation time and possibly win the game but failed to convert.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

ACS(I) beat bitter rivals Saints in injury time for 2nd straight year to clinch 14th B Div title

When it comes to school sports, one of the fiercest rivalries can be found in the one between rugby powerhouses Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St Andrews Secondary School.

At the Schools National B Division boys' final at Ministry of Education Physical Education and Sports Education Branch yesterday, it was no different, with verbal barbs exchanged between the opposing players before an estimated crowd of 1,000.

Yet it was ACS(I) who came away with bragging rights this year, with a 17-12 sudden death extra-time win over Saints in the sweltering heat for a 14th B division rugby title.

The boys from Dover Road took a quick 5-0 lead through hooker Benjamin Lim's drive over the line.

Despite having greater possession, the blue and white-striped Saints slumped further when ACS(I) flanker Muhammad Nur Solihin squeezed the ball over the line.

Inside centre Tristan Yeow scored the conversion to give the holders a 12-0 cushion midway through the second half.

But as cries of "push, Saints, push" echoed from the stands, Saints hooker Philip Distor Joseph clawed back with a try, while captain Viviyan Philip scored the subsequent conversion to make it 12-7.

The comeback was complete when prop Samuel Lee's try levelled the tie with four minutes to go, though outside centre Viviyan missed the conversion that would have given Saints the lead.

That miss ultimately proved costly, as ACS(I) winger Benjamin Poey sprinted a lung-bursting 50m for the winning try three minutes into extra time, cueing jubilant celebrations from players and supporters alike.

"Awestruck" with the winning try, only his second of the season, the match winner said: "It was just a good pass from my team-mate (Ian Teh), I had enough space and I went for it. Everything just fell into place."

Yesterday's win was also the perfect tonic for a 22-0 thrashing at the hands of their bitter rivals earlier in the season.

Benjamin, 16, said: "It was a big shock to the whole ACS family how we lost to Saints so badly. I could see the fire in everyone's eyes, we wanted to win really badly. All the hard work over the months came down to this, and we were not going to mess it up."

As the Secondary 4 student was mobbed by exuberant team-mates, the deflated Saints, with dejected looks and tears on their faces, were left wondering what could have been - they lose to the same opponents in injury time last year too.

Viviyan, 17, was gracious in defeat, though clearly aching from the manner of defeat to their eternal rivals. The Secondary 5 student said: "I am disappointed (about the miss) but at the end of the day it's not about that, it's about how I can improve on today and hopefully kick better under pressure next time.

"You win some and you lose some...it goes both ways when you're under pressure. Kudos to ACS(I), they really maintained the pressure."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'SHOWING WHO'S THE BOSS IN RUGBY'. Print Edition | Subscribe