Saints hang on to end 23-year hoodoo

Tantham Kitiarsa (yellow and blue stripes), from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I)), chasing down Viviyan Philip (right) from St Andrew’s Secondary School (SAS), during the Schools National C Division rugby championship. St Andrew's won 14-13.

Saint Andrew's Secondary School clinched their first C Division rugby title in 23 years after a thrilling 14-13 win over Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) at Yio Chu Kang Stadium yesterday.

In a tense and enthralling encounter between two rugby giants of the schools scene, the Saints, who last won the competition in 1990, turned in a solid defensive performance and held their nerves despite a late rally from the defending champions.

The win meant the Saints finished the season unbeaten.

It was a proud day for captain Viviyan Philip. The 14-year-old (left) played a starring role, scoring a try and making two conversions.

"Winning is already good enough, but making history with my school... that's beyond words," said the Secondary 2 student.

"We had one motive at the beginning of the year. We trained so hard for this, and we've got it."

Even though ACS (I) began the match on the attack, the Saints were resolute in defence and clinical on offence, racing to a 14-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Forward Bryan Liau opened the scoring with a 13th-minute try and Viviyan completed the conversion. Viviyan then converted his own try seven minutes later.

ACS (I) clawed their way back with a penalty by flyhalf Lim Shern, before prop Mikha Khaleel Abuthinin's try and Lim Shern's conversion on the stroke of half-time made it 14-10.

Lim Shern scored another penalty in the 45th minute to set up a nail-biting finale.

Try as they might, the ACSians couldn't find a way through the stubborn Saints backline.

The final whistle was simply a relief for Saints' forwards coach Nick Dance.

"I was screaming 'Hold your line! Hold your line', because our guys tend to all huddle in," said the 41-year-old.

"Of course I was worried as it was 14-13 in the last 10 minutes, but I was pretty confident that the guys knew what to do.

"That's the tightest game they've had all year, and it's really good to win these kind of games."

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