Rugby Report - Panthers Lose Narrowly to Visiting Japanese
- 22/01/06 Horseshoe Point
sunshine and temperatures topping 25C saw the Pattaya Panther’s
first outing of 2006 at Horseshoe Point on Sunday last. The
very welcome visitors were the Bangkok Japanese, no strangers
to the Pattaya rugby scene. The Panthers team showed some
changes from the side that had beaten the Bangkok Bangers
at the end of last year, and the pack was beefed up considerably
from that which had struggled in the tight against the experienced
bangers. Tristan Lawrence and Mark Bowler made their debuts.
Richard Holt was back in the side as was Jim Sherman, and
visiting Neil Smith added some necessary solidity. Jim Howard
again held things up at loose head.
Pattaya Panthers and Bangkok Japanese
sides after last Sunday’s encounter.
The Pattaya Panthers went down 26-29.
first period saw some tentative early exchanges, and it became
clear that the Japanese would, as expected, seek to use their
pace out wide. With Pattaya traditionally playing an open
game the stage was set for an entertaining match, and the
big crowd was lustily vocal in its abuse. Pattaya had ascendancy
in the scrum, and the line out was functioning as required
with Paul Crouch jumping well at number 2 in the line. After
20 minutes a scrum just inside the Japanese 22 was won well
by Pattaya. Sherman picked up at number 8 and fed scrum-half
Eoin Quirke who dotted the ball down after a half-tackle.
He was judged however to have been guilty of a double-movement
and the try was thus disallowed. Nonetheless, this spurred
the Japanese into action. Some sweeping back play and impressive
interplay in the centres saw two fine tries scored in quick
succession, both converted. At 14-0 down Pattaya regrouped
and decided to tighten things up. Some bullocking runs from
Bowler and Smith and good ball retention, coupled with inch
perfect line kicking by fly-half Steve Turner allowed Pattaya
to get right back into the game. If it seemed that Panther
Malcolm Gray was everywhere during this advance, that is because
he was. Prop, second row and centre. On the stroke of half
time, after sustained Panther’s pressure, the Japanese
were penalised 15 yards from their try-line for hands on the
floor. A quick tapped penalty ball was and fed to the charging
Bowler who could not be denied by committed Japanese tackling,
and scored some 10 meters in from the left touchline. Turner
converted and half time saw the Panthers 14-7 down.
second half began with Pattaya setting up camp in the Japanese
22. Persistent infringement by the overeager defence led to
a succession of Pattaya attacks, but the defence held and
managed to turn Pattaya over in the fifth minute to clear
to touch. The ensuing line out led to a very well-worked Pattaya
try. Lawrence threw short to Crouch who thundered up the tram-lines
drawing the opposing winger in-field before off loading back
to Lawrence who scored on the touchline. The long conversion
into the wind proved too tricky and the Japanese retained
their lead, but only just. 14-12.
picked up straight from the restart with Turner giving his
side field position back deep in the Japanese half. The Japanese
won the line-out but the clearing kick was charged down by
Quirke. The breakaway forwards in the form of Patrick Kennedy
secured possession and more Pattaya pressure ensued. A fine
strike by Steve Ball won the resulting scrum which was locked
by the impressive second row pairing of Corin James and Bowler,
and the pressure was rewarded eventually by a fine solo effort
from Sherman, who picked up from the scrum base beating three
men to score left of the posts. Turner converted easily and
Pattaya took the lead for the first time in the game, 19-14.
Japanese threw caution to the wind and began to run from everywhere.
Good tackling in the centres from Simon Sowden and Hiro stemmed
the tide, but only briefly, as superior fitness began to allow
the Japanese to outnumber the Pattaya defence. After a fine
break from Yoshi-San in the Japanese centre, Pattaya’s
winger Mark Coombs bravely took down the ball carrier only
to see him offload to his support to score in the corner.
The conversion was missed and the game was tied 19-19.
had the chance to go 3 points ahead some 5 minutes from time,
after another infringement on the floor. However with the
crowd baying for action, Pattaya spurned the goal kick and
elected for field position, which Turner duly gave them. The
line-out was secured and the ball was mauled infield. The
ball was popped from the back to Turner, who ran back towards
his big men, dragging them over to score. Turner converted
his own try and Pattaya were 26-19 up.
Japanese came charging back, still running from everywhere.
Try saving tackles from full back Phil Drake and hooker Lawrence
capped fine performances from both players. However the Japanese
were not to be denied and more clever back play saw a good
try in the corner. The conversion was missed and as full time
approached it seemed that Pattaya had done enough to secure
a 26-24 win. Pattaya took the ball into Japanese territory
and set up a ruck. It seemed that a further attack might be
enough to seal the win. Then all was to change. Amazingly
the ball popped out on the Japanese side and they moved it
quickly along the line, despite the brave attention of Pattaya’s
Phil Dunn. The Japanese were halted by another heroic effort
from Drake, but in desperation the arriving forwards joined
offside and a penalty was given on the Pattaya 22. The Japanese
tapped quickly, and powered over for the conclusive score,
thus winning the match 29-26.
for any inaccuracies in the above. This may be due to the
fact that the author was exhausted and lying under piles of
bodies for much of the afternoon.
thanks to referee Dave Williams for allowing a fine free-flowing
game. Further thanks to Grady, rising from the remains of
Steve Fraser’s wedding on Saturday to assist (briefly)
in the front row.
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