Cobras Come From Behind to Beat League Leaders
Glorious sunshine and blue skies welcomed the teams for the 5th round of the Dimbulla Estate CNX Rugby 11’s League. A complete contrast to the week before when torrential rain greeted the teams. This was a table topping clash between the early pace setters, Lanna Rugby Club, and last years champions the CNX Cobras. A win for Lanna would see them take an advantage into the second half of the season, whilst a loss for Cobras would basically be the end of their chances for 2023.
The Lanna Rugby Club, have been the form team so far this season and they got into their stride early, with some strong carries from Matty Hirst and David Smith, making inroads. It wasn’t long before the early pressure told, as some good work in midfield by Rufus Whitbooi, created the overlap for Tim Andrews to take advantage and score. The conversion was missed and it was advantage Lanna. 5-0.
A quickly taken penalty resulted in Cobras’ Jack McPherson being yellow carded for tackling the player within the 10. It wasn’t long before Andrews took advantage, and was back on the board again, this time beating the covering wing to the line for his & Lanna’s second. Again, the conversion was missed and Lanna were looking good going into the break with a solid 10-0 lead.
The second period saw the Cobras getting some ball retention and some strong drives up the line by Opart Nawasit & Dave McRitchie saw the Cobras gaining momentum. The introduction of Pudis at scrum half had an immediate affect as he took clean ball from a lineout and turned his opposite number inside out before going in under the posts. Jack McPherson kicked the extras. 10-7 Lanna.
The momentum had swung. Rowan Carroll was a nuisance at the breakdown for Cobras and was a strong carrier in midfield. Fitness was beginning to tell as the Cobras pack began to gain supremacy. Some slick hands in midfield by centre Jono Nunn opened up a slight gap, but that was all Parit (Ken) Sanwichai needed to slip through and score, under the posts. McPherson added the extras and it was 14-10 Cobras. Rory McLaughlin was having his best game of the season, putting in the hard yards to allow others the opportunity of utilizing the spaces he opened up. With the last play of the half the Lanna scrum half threw the ball dead and was penalized for doing so, which gave the Cobras the opportunity to score another try when Phakaphol “Kong” Numbbnjit went over. Conversion was missed and at the half time mark Cobras were in control 19-10.
Lanna came out fighting in the second half but with Kon Papadopoulos & Pop Borwornpak Boonrueng marshaling the defence, the Cobras held firm. The Cobras were playing some good stuff with the forwards controlling the ball and denying Lanna any meaningful possession. Once again, some deft handling from Nunn set Parit (Ken) Sanwichai away in space and a jinking run took him to the line for his second of the match and the bonus point score. Kick was missed. Cobras 24-10. With solid defence from both sides there were no more scores as the game ebbed and flowed.
The final period saw a battle of attrition up front. As the Lanna forwards began to tire it was mostly a rearguard action. Ferocious tackling across the park from both sides nullified any of the attacks that developed. Both sides came close to adding to their scores, only to be repelled on the line. The game came to a close with no further score and Cobras were 24-10 winners in a fine and entertaining game of rugby. The bonus point win means that the Cobras are still in the hunt, whilst Lanna suffered their first defeat of the season. With 3 teams sitting atop the league on 15 points its all to play for as we head into the second half of the season.
Mike Penistone, the Rugby 11’s coaching consultant said after the day’s action had concluded, that “The more we play the better we look! At training look at 3 phase play. Then the gaps will appear”.
Dimbulla Estate CNX Rugby 11’s League Table
7th October 2023
Chiang Mai University Ground
Chiang Mai Cobras V CMU Purple/Blacks
Lanna Rugby Club v CM All Stars