All Square On The Day
Its coming to the business end of the season and although it looks like Lanna Rugby Club have all but booked their spot in the final, their opponents in the December 12th showcase are still yet to be decided, with both CMU Rugby Club and Payap Rugby Club still in the running.
The pitch at Sankhampeng Kanta Anusorn school was in excellent condition and, with brilliant sunshine and no hint of rain in the air, CMU kicked off with the intention of putting pressure on Payap for that all important second place.
Eager and quick out of the blocks CMU came up against a brick wall as Lanna, who’s battle hardened old boys have got better as the season wears on, snuffed out any early attacks from the CMU. As the period wore on they began to dominate at the breakdown and put CMU on the backfoot. For all the possession and territory that Lanna suddenly found for themselves, they couldn’t force a score and it was only as the clock was ticking down to the break that Stubley drove for the line only to be held up short and scrum half Mark Harris burrowed over from the ruck to get his first try for the club and finally, put Lanna on the board, which all their dominant play deserved. They should have been two up minutes later when new recruit Mike Groark barged his way over the line, but being unsighted, mistook the dead ball line as the try line. Unfortunately in the buildup Mike, who had been instrumental in Lanna’s dominance in the early exchanges, took a blow to the head and had to leave the field.
From the restart it seemed that the Lanna boys were still coming to terms with losing Mike and a couple of weak tackles left the door open for CMU to equalize through Josh. As Lanna pressed for another score Harris was sin binned when adjudged to have taken down his opposite number with a dangerous tackle. Referee Rush blew the whistle to end the first period all square. 5-5
The start of the second stanza saw CMU capitalize on uncertainty in the Lanna ranks to immediately get on the board again with a breakaway try by Jed. Maybe it was the heat, maybe the loss of an influential player, but whatever it was suddenly Lanna were in complete disarray. Dropped balls, missed tackles, letting kicks bounce, it was a litany of errors and CMU are too good a side not to take advantage and they duly ran in two quick tries, a penalty try for which Dtun received a yellow card for a high tackle and by Pung to go 22-5 up.
It needed someone in the Lanna team to stand up and be counted and it duly arrived when Tom Stubley took the game by the scruff of the neck and, breaking from his own half, ran the length of the field to score and breath some life back into those Lanna legs. From the kick off CMU were guilty of letting the ball bounce and Opart was in position to knock the ball back to Stubley who immediately set off on a galivanting run through the CMU ranks to score his second and bring Lanna back into the match. 22-15 and it was game on.
The final period was a more even battle with Lanna back on their game with Captain McRitchie leading from the front and Paul Bolwell being his abrasive self as Lanna looked to get another score. Ted Guggenheim was becoming more influential as the game progressed and only some desperate defense stopped him from getting a score. It looked like CMU had scored again when a break from a mistimed kick saw them run clear only to knock the ball on over the line. From the relieving scrum a clearing kick by Guggenheim took play to the halfway and taking the lineout against the throw saw Lanna surge into the CMU 22. Harris fed the ball to Stubley who drove for the line to score but being taken high when going over the referee blew for a penalty try which tied up the game and denied Stubley a well deserved hat trick.
CMU had the chance to win the game in the last minute when they broke down the touchline. A desperate tackle by Harris was brushed aside but it was enough to force the CMU player to knock on in grounding the ball. All square at the finish with both teams getting a try bonus point. A fascinating game that swung first one way then the other and on reflection was probably a fair result which keeps CMU in contention for second spot in the league and a shot at the final.
With TNSU CMI again unavailable to field a team Payap Rugby Club got the walk over and four points.