SINGAPORE - This year's Schools National B Division rugby final began six days ago at the Home Team Academy, and ended yesterday at the Physical and Sports Education Branch after two bad-weather postponements.
After all the delays, it was St Andrew's Secondary School who held their nerve and focus better, beating defending champions Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) 21-18 to win their first B Division title since 2012.
"We wanted to win and we expected to win. You can't go into a match expecting to lose," said jubilant Saints captain Viviyan Philip, 15.
The Secondary 3 kicker scored 11 points for his team (three penalties and a conversion).
Poor weather had twice forced the final - originally scheduled for last Tuesday - to be postponed, with 241/2 minutes left to play.
Not surprisingly, frustration mounted in the two sides.
Said ACS(I) coach Rhys Jones: "It's difficult physically and also mentally tiring for the boys."
Despite the defeat - the first for ACS(I) in this year's competition - Jones remains proud of his team, who had also won the C Division title twice when they were in that age-group in 2011 and 2012.
He said: "They played well, they hit the target (of two tries) that I set them.
"To lose after a winning streak like that is hard. But that's part of sports."
When the match resumed yesterday, St Andrew's had an 11-8 lead but a determined ACS(I) scored two successive tries to turn the scoreline 18-14 in their favour.
However, the Saints hung on, scoring a crucial penalty try and successful conversion in the last few minutes to clinch the title.
Austin Ng, who scored the Saints' first try last Tuesday, noted they had a slow start against their physically-dominant rivals yesterday but mental strength and resilience saw them through.
The 17-year-old said: "We took today as a new score.
"After ACS(I) scored the first try, we re-started the score (mentally) too.
" Set, reset, then go again, and that really helped us - taking the score always as nil-nil."
This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.
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