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Manila 10s 23rd Annual International Rugby Tournament
April 10, 2012 | Share
Rugby is played on grass, not on paper!
Most reports on a tournament would detail the action chronologically, or even start with the premier division, in this case the Cup.
This report; however, is going straight to the big news... Nomads, against the predictions of the good, the great and all and sundry present at the club on Sunday afternoon, won the Plate Division of the Cape Manila 10s for only the third time in the 23-year history of the tournament.
Saturday’s action in the five pool, twenty team Open Division had seen last year’s Plate champions, Taipei Baboons, score 48 unanswered points, but it was Alabang Eagles, the team they defeated in 2011, with a squad stacked to the gunwales with national team players and various other visiting Sydney based players, who really shone, demolishing all their opponents and amassing 88 points in thirty six minutes of action.
Nomads had started the tournament slowly, with steady, but far from clinical performances against Bush Turkeyz & Brisbane Vulgarians, winning the games 12-0 and 10-0 respectively. Their final game in the pool stages gave a glimpse of the glories to come the following day, when they shut-out Brisbane Warriors 29-0. It was not the score-line which was most impressive, more the concentration level and the cohesion that the team was beginning to display.
The Nomads Carabaos, led by James Colby also had a fine day, recording two wins and only going down 12-0 to Taipei Baboons. Their efforts then backfired on them in a cruel way, when after all the calculations were made, they found themselves in the Plate Division as the 8th best team after the pool stages.
Carabaos were destined to face Alabang in the quarter-finals and be on the wrong end of a 33-0 thumping. This said more about the quality of the Eagles team, than the performance of the home side. Up against younger and fitter opponents, many of whom have played representative rugby, they did not take a backward step and despite the loss, left the field with their heads held justifiably high.
Within the Nomads squad, if nowhere else, there was a growing belief that this could be their day and a 10-0 quarter-final victory against a physical Seoul Survivors team further cemented this.
Alabang’s second string, the Ibons, with several capped players amongst their ranks had also progressed to the Plate semi-finals, where they were to face Nomads. A further step-up in class by the boys in green saw them to a 13-0 win and a face-off with the Eagles, who had put last year’s ghost to rest in trouncing the Baboons 26-5.
So it was to be the final many locals had wanted to see. The free scoring Eagles with 144 points in five games, against the gritty, physical home team. Nomads had improved every game and coach Phil Gittus asked his men, four of whom had just come off the field three minutes earlier, having lost the Veteran’s final, to dig deep and trust in the game plan. Twenty minutes later the crowd were on their feet and saluting the performance of the day. Nomads had played to their strengths, had taken the Eagles on up front and ultimately denied them possession for long periods of the game. Without the ball, all of the Eagles attacking potential had been nullified. Nomads had scored a try to remember, a perfectly taken line-out ball by Chris Anderson, followed by a perfectly executed and much practised 25 yard rolling maul, resulted in a try for veteran prop Nick Treweeke. They had followed this up with endless draining physical work in keeping the game in a narrow channel and denying the opponents the expansive game they so desired.
Superb tackling by the entire team, but notably Bobby Pitts, Danny Williams and Sam Fogg repelled the occasional attacks mounted by the Eagles, who were forced to live off scraps of possession.
Captain, Jon Morales, who had left the field midway through the second half with a gaping wound in his head after an accidental clash, returned to the fray in the dying minutes looking like a battle victim from the Somme. He, like the entire squad, dug deep as the pressure mounted and a few moments of indiscipline and nerves found their way into the game.
Nomads were not to be denied, they held fast and at the final whistle there were ecstatic celebrations from the home team, with Morales and his men joining the team of 1999 under Peter Ethelston and the team of 2008 under Sam Chittick, as the only ones to lift the Plate.
There are many ways to win a game of rugby and it’s not always the best team on paper who triumphs. As has oft been said before, rugby is played on grass, not on paper. Nomads proved this without a doubt. Grit, determination and the will to win cannot be taught. Nomads are blessed in having all of these attributes in spades throughout the entire squad.
The overall commitment of the entire Nomads squad cannot be overstated; they trained hard, bought into a game plan, played to the game plan and improved every time they took the field. The fact that they did not concede a single point in any game and achieved victory with a squad including four players in their forties and another already of veteran status, is testament to their total and utter commitment.
Eagles for their part, will bounce back. They are a proud team who have reached consecutive Plate finals and without doubt they will return next year looking to go one step further.
In Saturday’s Cup Division action, the defending champions the JML Welsh Warriors had not looked like the force they were in 2011. They had scrambled to two wins in three games, but were to ultimately fall to the Lloyd McDermott Foundation in the quarter-finals. Their conquerors then went on to what was perhaps a surprise victory over CS Larrikins who had bolstered their squad this year with some men of sizeable stature.
In the Cup Final they were to face the CAPE Crusaders, actually Queensland University Rugby Club in disguise. This team was a quality outfit and there are not many that would argue that they played the finest rugby ever witnessed in the history of the Cape Manila 10s. Their three pool games included the slaughter of the Rowzy Pegasi boys from Melbourne RFC, who must have wondered if they had turned up at the wrong tournament. The 60-0 score-line was the most lopsided of the day. When the defending champions from Wales were also dispatched 17-0, the student team were very much the favourites to lift the Cup.
The Crusaders sailed through the quarters and the semis without conceding a single point, before giving a master class in tens rugby to those who were not celebrating the Nomads Plate win. 42-7 is the biggest margin of victory in the Cup Final in the history of the Cape Manila 10s and will mean every team bar none will have to go back to the drawing board in the next twelve months.
Earlier in the day the popular Robbers and Floggers had dispatched local team Manila Hapons before beating Valley Griffins 17-0 in the final of the Shield. Brisbane Warriors then became the first back to back winners of the Bowl, narrowly defeating Botak Cebu Dragons 5-0.In the final of the Veterans competition the first time visitors Taipei Silverbacks held on to defeat local favourites and defending champions Extinct Volcanoes 7-5. Sam Chittick, who had earlier in the game hit the bar from out wide, with a conversion attempt, had the unenviable task of taking a penalty to win the game with the last kick. Under immense pressure the attempt failed to score, but without doubt calmer heads late in the game would have seen the local lads win the game without that kick ever having to be taken.
This was the biggest ever Cape Manila 10s in terms of teams with thirty six, including twenty eight from overseas. It was also the best attended and there is no doubt the level of excitement and enthusiasm around the ground throughout both days means that Cape Manila 10s 2013 will be just as well supported.
Over and out....Stinger
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