School sports: ACS(I) stun defending champs St Andrew's with late comeback to reclaim B Division rugby title

Elijah Jap (far left) scores a try for Saint Andrew’s in the B division Boys Rugby at Queenstown Stadium on April 4, 2019. Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) beat Saint Andrew’s 15-13.
Elijah Jap (far left) scores a try for Saint Andrew’s in the B division Boys Rugby at Queenstown Stadium on April 4, 2019. Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) beat Saint Andrew’s 15-13.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) rugby players celebrate after beating Saint Andrews in the B division Boys Rugby Final at Queenstown Stadium on April 4, 2019.
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) rugby players celebrate after beating Saint Andrews in the B division Boys Rugby Final at Queenstown Stadium on April 4, 2019.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - When Kenji Chng wakes up on Friday morning (April 5), perhaps he will have a clearer recollection of what happened at 7.03pm the day before. 

But no one can blame him if he still feels a little dazed. After all, the 16-year-old had written the latest chapter in the absorbing rugby rivalry between Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and St Andrew’s Secondary School.

Leading by three points three minutes into stoppage time at the Queenstown Stadium, it appeared that the Saints had done enough to retain the Schools National B Division title.

But the blue-and-yellow pack of ACS patiently chipped away until a gap opened for Kenji to rush through and plant the ball across the line for a dramatic last-gasp 15-13 victory.

It didn’t matter that ACS missed the subsequent conversion – they had missed both of their earlier conversion kicks – what mattered was the school from Dover Road had defeated the opponents the hard way.

They had gallantly battled back to erase a 13-5 deficit in a match delayed by 90 minutes owing to heavy downpour.

“I simply couldn’t think at that point. I just kept running and running and it’s just an incredible moment,” said mud-caked fullback Kenji, trying his best to recall his match-winning feat.

What a turnaround it was for ACS, when the game was turning out to be one to forget. 

A try from ACS fullback Kaylen Chin in the 23rd minute was sandwiched by a pair of penalties from the Saints’ Anthony Castillo Triumfo Lucky (19th and 54th).

St Andrew’s No. 8 Elijah Jap extended the lead to 13-5 with a 61st-minute try, which was converted by Anthony, as the blue-and-white pack looked dominant.

Still, ACS reached into their tactical toolbox to pull out some rabbits. 

With time running out, the tendency to just hoof it long was there, but ACS calmly recycled the ball from flank to flank, dragging the Saints out of position before punching through the gaps. 

That worked as Kaylen scored his second try in the 69th minute before Kenji performed his heroics.

Kenji said: “The team played very well and the communication between us was very good. We switched the play from left to right and we outnumbered them at the right places. 

“Resilience was the most important thing today. We totally pressed them (the Saints) at the end and we really deserved to win. 

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to finish four years of hard training with a moment like this. We won this as a team and it feels very good.”

The final whistle cued massive celebrations from the ACS family, from students to teachers to old boys and parents. 

In equal measure, the sorrow was evident in the many teary and distraught faces in the Saints team, who left the pitch stunned by how they had a whiff of the trophy only to have their world cave in.

St Andrew’s captain Jabez Lim said: “I’m very proud of the whole team. We fought all the way. 

“But I’m not going to lie, this (defeat) is absolutely devastating. I am sad to disappoint the seniors, but this defeat is now in the past, we have to look towards the future.”

Since Greenridge Secondary School won the second of their two consecutive titles in 1996, the B Division title has been dominated by ACS and the Saints, with the former amassing 16 crowns since 1997.

St Andrew’s won it last year with the last kick of the game, a penalty, for a 13-10 victory.

The tables turned this year in similar dramatic circumstances. Even if young Kenji might not quite remember when he wakes up on Friday morning.