Lanna Come Close But…….
The 6th round of the World Flair NTR 10s league was, what was expected to be, a feisty encounter between local rivals Lanna Rugby Club and the Chiang Mai Cobras. The Lanna Lions needed a win to boost their slender hopes of making the final in November whilst a win for the Cobras, would guarantee them a place in the top two.
Lanna had pulled out all the stops in pitch preparation with the grass neatly cut and the pitch marked, albeit a bit narrow. With the recent rain it was a surface that invited running rugby and so it was.
Cobras received and went immediately to their big ball runners, Opart Nawisit, Rowan Carroll and Pattarapon “Rush” Ekdamrong to crash up the middle. The Lanna defence has improved as the season commences and some big tackles repelled the initial attacks. Lanna were penalized at the breakdown in centre field and playmaker Richie Davies had no hesitation in thumping the ball downfield for an attacking lineout. “Rush” Ekdamrong soared high to claim the throw and played it off the top back to hooker Kong, who had a clear run down the blindside to score the first of the match. 5-0 Cobras. Even though it was still early in the match “Rush” Ekdamrong was already putting in a man of the match performance, covering the entire pitch and putting in some crunching tackles to snuff out any Lanna counter attacks. It was no surprise that, after a bout of sustained pressure, he broke through the defence to score, Cobras second. 10-0 Cobras. Lanna showed their attacking intent and pressured the Cobras line. Stanton seeing his way ahead blocked did a cheeky little chip over the top and regathered, to put Lanna on the board. With Dtun converting it was 10-7 Cobras. As the period wound down Cobras again struck from afar with Simon Dickinson making the break down the middle assisted by Dave McRitchie. Scrum Half Damo May fed the ball to Ry McLaughlin who showed pace and power to go in under the posts duly converted by Richie Davies. 17-7 Cobras.
The second period was a closer affair, with Lanna getting into their stride and creating chances of their own. Stanton, Phil and Tom Stubley were always a threat and provided momentum. A typical Stubley kick over the top led to him gathering the ball and heading for the line. A great cover tackle from May stopped him just short but, fine support from Dtun saw him pick up the loose ball, to score in the corner. 17-12 Cobras. Just as it looked like all the momentum was with Lanna two quick fire tries by Kon Papadopoulos, converted by Davies and a fine forwards’ try when, Dickinson smuggled the ball to Nawisit in a maul close to the line, for him to dive over and score. The try was converted by Toprit Lekkijcharoenchai who is becoming more influential, the more games he plays. 31-12 Cobras.
Start of the final period and it was like the Cobras thought it was game over and were half asleep. Suddenly Lanna were right back in it, scoring twice within five minutes of the restart, with Stanton bursting through some weak defence, to score and Phil, breaking out from his own half, to leave the Cobras reeling. Both tries were converted by Dtun and it was 31-26 to Cobras. Was this the moment for Lanna to get that elusive win and bring them back into contention? Damo May obviously hadn’t read the script and broke Lanna hearts, when he slipped through to score under the posts, for Toprit to convert. Then, topping off a first class performance, “Rush” Ekdamrong went in for his second of the match. With Richie converting it was a final score of Cobras 45 Lanna 26.
An exciting game that ebbed and flowed and a spirited Lanna performance, looked like bringing them the win. The Cobras however know when to lift the tempo and just as it looked like the game was slipping away from them, they hit back hard.
Next game in Round 7 of the World Flair NTR 10s league is the Cobras v CMU/MAE at CMU on 1st October 2022