Rugby In The Rain
16th September 2023 was the day the weather caught up with us. We have been lucky with the weather so far this season, playing in almost perfect conditions. Finally, at the Dimbulla Estate CNX Rugby 11’s league Round Four, the heavens opened.
Game one, was The CMU Gallant taking on the Chiang Mai Cobras. With both teams coming off a loss the previous week, it was important to get a win and start gaining some momentum, as we head towards the halfway stage of this year’s league.
The game started in sunshine & blue skies, but it didn’t take long for the rain to arrive, and it was torrential. Cobras started at a fast pace and flyhalf Jack McPherson was quick to get on the board, breaking through two tackles to score under the posts. McPherson converted and the Cobras were up and running. McPherson was quickly back on the scoreboard after the Cobras were awarded a penalty at the breakdown in midfield. A quick tap had the Gallant players offside and McPherson went wide and outpaced the winger to score in the corner. Conversion missed, Cobras 12-0. Further tries by scrum half Damion May from a scrum move and Pop Borwornpak Boonrueng, who ran in from 80 meters after turnover ball, near his own line. Cobras leading 24-0 at the break.
This Gallant side might be new to rugby, but they have heart. Put under extreme pressure by this experienced Cobras side, they fought hard and put in some tremendous hits. Cobras’ Jono Nunn, who missed the last game with a hamstring strain, was influential in midfield, crashing the ball up and providing subtle offloads to his outside backs. It was McPherson however who was on fire as he helped himself to three further tries along with Kon Papadopoulos who went in for his first of the match.
As the rain hammered down, both sides played entertaining rugby, getting the ball out wide with good handling skills. Gallant threatened the Cobras line on occasion, but solid defence, and rapid counter attack, always left them vulnerable. Pop Borwornpak Boonrueng, who improves with every game, ran in two more tries, with Kon Papadopoulos getting a fine individual try for his second of the match. The Cobras forwards were working well and some bullocking runs from Rowan Carrol ensured the Cobras were getting front foot ball.
With conditions worsening, the last period was cut short after Pop Borwornpak Boonrueng, got his fourth of the day, due to localized lightning strikes. Although the scoreline doesn’t reflect it, the Gallant were a vast improvement on the previous week’s performance, and have given themselves a platform to build on, going into the second half of the season. This was a great bounce back for the Cobras after their loss the previous week and puts them back in the mix. Their game on 24th September against table topping Lanna Rugby Club should be a cracker.
The second game saw a valiant CMU Purple/Black taking on the resurgent Chiang Mai All Stars, who after a slow start to the season, are gaining momentum. With the rain easing, and handling becoming easier, the All Stars took early control with Chatchanan Piaesupong, getting the scoreboard ticking. Toprit Lekkijcharoenchai added the extras and All Stars were up and running 7-0. The Purple/Blacks responded well and put the All Stars under sustained pressure. A mixup in midfield however saw Chaithawat Thepmongkun steal the ball and run 70 meters for the All stars second. 12-0 at the break.
The Purple/Blacks continued their fine play and just when it looked like they might gain a foothold, Thanakit Boonjaroun got the turnover and ran in under the posts with Pongporn Piboonsri, converting. 19-0. With the weather again deteriorating, the Purple/Blacks finally got some reward for their endeavors with Dechathorn (noom) Sumranjai scoring a fine individual try. 19-5 at half time.
The Purple/Blacks were immediately back on the attack and were first on the board when Phutawan (Phed) Saejung went in at the corner. 19-10. Just as it looked like the Purple/Blacks could get something out of the match, a quickfire double from Chaithawat Thepmongkun & ChaKrist JaRuwan snuffed out any hope of a surprise result. Pudis Sangsuwan went in as the period came to a close with Pongporn Piboonsri kicking the extras. 36-10.
Purple/Blacks had their best spell in the last period and kept the All Stars scoreless whilst having the last say, when Korndanai (Dew) Sangomon, went in under the posts with Phutawan (Phed) Saejung converting for a final score of 36-17.
Its so refreshing to see how the Thai lads play their game. Always with respect, smiles and happiness. It’s a lot like watching the islander players in that regard. Long may it continue!
Mike Penistone, the Rugby 11’s coaching consultant said after the day’s action had concluded, that “It is becoming more important every week to ensure coaches concentrate on ball into contact, techniques. Use tackle shields to get attackers driving forward and then the ball carrier, should work hard, to long place the ball. The support players should latch on to the ball carrier, just before he makes contact..”
Dimbulla Estate CNX Rugby 11’s League Table
24th September 2023
Chiang Mai University Ground
Chiang Mai Cobras V Lanna Rugby Club
CMU Purple/Black v CMU Gallant