By: Pat Cotter
Chiang Mai University was the venue for the penultimate round of the 2020 Lanna Rugby 10’s League and it was hot. Not just the weather but the games had a lot riding on them, with Lanna Rugby Club claiming top sport with a win and any of CMU Rugby, Payap Rugby Club and TNSU CMI Rugby, all in the hunt for that second spot, and a place in the 12th December final.
The first game of the day was Lanna Rugby Club taking on the surprise package of the season, Payap Rugby Club, in a game that Payap needed to win to guarantee that coveted second spot and a place in the final. Lanna were boosted by the return of stalwarts Brien Grieve and Louis “The Pickle” Stanton to bolster the team. Khun Kiattichai “Kit“ Noptakul was welcomed back as the official in charge and, with Lanna winning the toss, blew the whistle to get proceedings under way.
It was a nervous start as Payap knocked on from the kick off and from the resulting Lanna scrum a back move broke down midfield when a slight knock on gave back the advantage to Payap. As Lanna attempted to put pressure on at scrum time the Payap scrum half Dew saw space down the blind side and leaving the cover in his wake sped down the line. Mike Cresswell came across to close him down but Boom, coming up in support, continued the move before passing back inside to Dew who was held up just short before ever present Rowan Carroll secured the ball and drove over for the first score of the afternoon. Payap made the kick to give them that all important early advantage 7-0.
Again nerves were jangling and Lanna knocked on from the restart, handing Payap a great opportunity to attack the line. From the scrum the Payap backs found some space down the far touchline but, as the move broke down, some fine poaching by McRitchie saw the ball given out to Ted Guggenheim who found a gap to drive up the middle, before some fine cover defense hauled him down. Brien Grieve was on hand to take possession from the ruck and set in motion what was probably the move of the match. He Drew in the cover before passing out to centre CM Boom in space, who thrust deep into the Payap half, before offloading to a supporting Grieve who, continuing the move, threw a no look pass out the backdoor for a rollicking Stanton on the loop, to steam onto the ball for an unstoppable charge to the line. Guggenheim made it 7 all with a fine conversion. Breath-taking stuff by both teams so far.
Payap claimed the restart and their pack drove up the middle before recycling ball to the backs who looked to be in for the score, before Stanton robbed possession, to turn defense into attack. With Stubley taking the ball into midfield, it looked like Lanna would increase their lead but a Payap turnover saw them race away with some slick passing of their own only for Stubley to put in a fine saving tackle and get the ball to Dtun who galloped away to score and with Guggenheim missing the kick it put Lanna back in front 12-7 as the ref blew for the break.
From the restart Payap threw everything at Lanna with some enterprising forwards play and interchanging backs moves but they couldn’t breakdown a resolute Lanna defense led by Brave, with Ong and Jack putting in some big hits. Payap were awarded a penalty on half way but one of the players was shown a yellow card for dissent and, when the resulting lineout went astray, Lanna got the chance to relieve the pressure. Being a man down, there was always going to be space, and as Guggenheim collected from the base of the scrum Stubley called the switch and went down the blind side. It was then a footrace with only one winner, and Stubley scored under the posts which was duly converted by Guggenheim. Although Payap kept up the pressure they couldn’t get that all important break and went in 19-7 down.
As the final period kicked off Payap knew it was all or nothing and as Lanna kicked deep they would have to do it from their own line. Payap came back hard and with a superb carry from Robin getting them on the front foot, No 9 Dew chipped over the top for centre Thitisan Changsomboon to gather and race towards the line and although he was hunted down just before he got there he still had the power to get the ball down and get Payap back into the game. Santhiti “Aom” kwuangwaen converted and the score was back to 19-12.
Lanna just weren’t in the mood to let this one slip and, holding possession through multiple phases, eventually found a gap for Stubley to once again exploit. Handing off his opposite number he broke the line to score under the posts which Guggenheim once again converted to give Lanna a 26-12 lead.
Lanna again kicked deep and once again Payap were up to the challenge first setting up the ruck then spinning the ball wide to Thitisan Changsomboon who sped away and, side stepping Stubley, cantered in under the posts to set up an intriguing finale after Santhiti “Aom” kwuangwaen converted to make it 26-19. Payap pushed hard for that fourth try and it almost came with the last play of the game but the ball was knocked on in the tackle close to the line and the whistle went for the end of the match. Bonus point win for Lanna and a losing bonus point for Payap. Will that be enough to see them through? Their game against CMU Rugby next week becomes all important now!
Great game of running rugby played in the right spirit.
Man of the Match
Ted Guggenheim – Lanna RC
CMU Rugby Club V TNSU CMI Rugby
It was good to see TNSU back on the park after missing the last two games. With an outside chance of claiming that second spot, they would need a convincing win to put pressure on CMU and Payap. They started quickly and got on the board early with a try by Jirawat Nitichayar. CMU though fought back strongly and gradually got back into the game. A fine midfield move saw them level the scores at the start of the second period and put the pressure back on TNSU.
CMU then went further ahead from a lineout drive to give them a 12-7 lead. TNSU then leveled again when Chatchawan Chaithong smuggled his way over.
CMU kept coming back at them and a pretty even game was only decided when TNSU got two quick tries by Tawan Ditsatan and a second for Chatchawan Chaithong towards the end and although CMU went in for a consolation try, it wasn’t enough to secure a bonus point. A fine kicking display by TNSU’s Sorapoj Unboontham who, converted three of the tries, saw TNSU prevail 26-17.
This has set up an intriguing last round of games as all three teams, CMU, Payap and TNSU can make the final against Lanna, so watch this space!