COBRAS EDGE A THRILLER

Cobras Beat Lanna In A Close Match

Saturday 27th August was the day of the “local derby” match between the Chiang Mai Cobras and the Lanna Rugby Club at the CMU field. With these teams having some history it was always going to be a feisty game and so it proved.

With Lanna losing the toss, the Cobras decided to receive the ball from the kick off and immediately put Lanna under some serious pressure. Quick recycled ball from the breakdown saw the Cobras making gains up the centre. Some good driving work from Dave McRitchie and Pattarapon Ekdamrong opened the space for hooker Charlie Jones to crash over for the opening score. Richie Davis’ conversion was wide and Cobras led 5-0 early doors.

Cobras continued their good work and with Lanna starved of possession it was only a matter of time before they scored again. Lanna infringed at the breakdown and a kick to touch put the Cobras in a good position to attack. The lineout ball was secured, Davis passed outside to Valentine who drew the defence before popping a pass to prop Opart Nawisit who crashed over. Again, Davis was wide with his kick and Cobras led 10-0.

As with the first game Lanna began to work their way back into the match. Tom Stubley collected the ball in his own half and burst through a couple of tackles to race away and score under the post with Dtun converting. 10-7 Cobras. With the clock ticking down Cobras were caught out when Dtun kicked over the top and won the footrace, collecting the ball from a favourable bounce to score under the posts. Converting his own try put Lanna up 14-10 at the break.

The second period had the Cobras regaining some control, but the game was turning into one of attrition, as the hits came in thick and fast, with no quarter asked for or given! A quick tap and go from a penalty by scrum half Davis got the forward momentum. Passing the ball to Boss in space he feinted left, then right before finding space up the middle and gliding through for a converted try. Advantage Cobras 17-14. Things took a turn when Rowan Carroll chased a kick through towards the Lanna line. Lanna player Phil clearly pulled him back that brought the penalty. Both players went to ground and some pushing and shoving ensued followed by Phil putting in a headbutt on Carroll and earning a red card. Cobras Charlie Jones was also shown a red card for inflaming the situation. Once play resumed with a Cobras penalty, Lanna were under pressure. Some outstanding defence led by Lanna captain Stan Ton had Lanna winning a penalty at the breakdown on their own line. The clearing kick gave them some relief from the relentless pressure. Cobras won the resulting Lanna lineout and finally found some space to get the speedy backs moving. A charge for the line by Matt Nunn was held up short before Opart had another go and opened up the gap for captain Matty Valentine to crash over for an unconverted try. 22-14 Cobras as the whistle blew.

Going into the final period, Lanna knew they had to be first to score and immediately went on the offensive. With Cobras’ discipline coming into question, Lanna were gifted possession and the momentum. A Cobras clearing kick was picked up and returned by Dtun down the left. He set up the ruck and a wayward pass by the scrum half seemed to have spoiled the chance. Stan Ton picked up the loose ball and straightened the attack. Dave “Smithy” Smith was in support and as he shrugged off a tackle, a hole opened up and he beat the cover to score in the corner for an unconverted score. 22-19 and all to play for going into the last 5 minutes. The game was in the balance and the momentum was all with Lanna but a great run out of defence by Cobra Ry McLaughlin, had him beating three players before offloading to Matty Valentine, who drew the defender before passing to Pran who was too fast, to score under the posts. Richie Davis converted to push Cobras out to 29-19. Lanna kept fighting to the end but couldn’t get the score that would have given them 2 bonus points. How much of a difference could that make at the end of the season?

A great match. A tough, belligerent and at times, feisty encounter. Lanna have made great strides this season and are competitive on every level. Cobras continue to impress, grinding out a win against a tenacious opponent and topping the league.

Cobras captain Matty Valentine had this to say “It was tough match against the Lions and the boys had to dig deep to get over the line. We went away from our intended game plan and that made things difficult for us out there. Lanna played really well and made us work hard for everything right to the final whistle. The boys wore black armbands out of respect for one of our members who lost his mother recently and it was probably that extra little incentive that got us the win in the end.

Lanna coach Matt James said “It was a hard, physical game which was enjoyable to play and watch. Looking forward to playing them again in a couple of week’s time”.

The Cobras wore black armbands in respect for Mark “Bomber” Harris’ mother Cynthia, who sadly passed away recently and the win was dedicated to her memory. RIP Cynthia.

Next match in the World Flair 2022 NTR 10’s League is on Saturday 10th September with CMU/Maejo taking on the Lanna Rugby Club at 16.30.

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