The place: Perth, Western Australia, June 12.
The teams: England and Australia.
The scene: Wallabies get pummeled in the scrum by the English, but win the overall battle.
The result: Wallabies win 27-17, despite the sustained pressure up front.
The place: Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Bangkok, June 24.
The teams: Bangkok Bangers and the Southerners.
The scene: Southerners get pummeled in the scrum by the Bangers, but win the overall battle.
The result: Southerners win 13-7, despite the sustained pressure up front.
A sense of deja vu floated through the air last Thursday evening at Bangkok’s Royal Bangkok Sports Club, as the Southerners beat one of the strongest Bangkok Bangers sides ever fielded.
The round 3 Thailand Rugby Union pool match win also saw the retention of the coveted Soi 33 Cup by the Southerners – a spoil that has seen its fair share of blood, sweat and beers between both teams over the years.
Like the England side only a couple of weekends before, the Bangers’ scrum was dominant in both technique and weight. The first 30 minutes of the match were a torrid affair, with the Bangers’ scrum proving the better of the Southerners tight five, with an assortment of angles and pressure that even a roid-munching Pythagoras would have trouble mollifying.
Despite this, and after a gazillion litres of water and a chat at halftime, the Southerners were able to tighten and regain some stability in the second half, with the supreme efforts and heart of the Southerners’ two Thai props not overlooked by those on the sideline, including ‘Yesterday’s Heroes’ Rollin Miller and Andy ‘Bomo’ Thompson who came to support for the evening.
Trailing at half time, the Southerners needed a spark to get back into the match.
After a tremendous 50m penalty punt 15 metres short of the tryline by the Southerners’ Damian “Australia says no to the Bangles” Hoo, the call was to drive the ball toward the Bangers line.
Some may say such a tactic is as crazed as a nude Dutchman with a vuvuzela, given the sizeable Bangers pack. However fortune favours the brave…a solid throw went straight to Toby jumping at 2, maul formed, and with a good push upfield the Southerners took the ball within five metres of the line. The Bangers defended well and slightly splintered the maul, but the momentum was not enough to stop skipper Perkins and company rolling the maul around, going over the line and taking the Southerners into the lead. Certainly no ‘soft’ try.
It wasn’t just the scrums where battles were waged. The Southerners centre pairing and halves performed well against wave after wave of Samoan missles, with some excellent straight up and cover defense. The back row also did a good job keeping the Bangers attack at bay, terrorising in the tackle and at the ruck.
Hooey’s bilingual communication also brought the sympathies of the Thai referee, and the ire of the opposition, however this may have been balanced by one call where the young man was penalised for being in front of the kicker, despite being the kicker himself.
Well into the second half, the game continued on its tense tangent, with the Southerners keeping a greater share of possession and territory as the game wore on and as the Bangers pack increasingly tired. As the clocked ticked down on the match’s final few seconds, Toby put on one of his classic ‘Kinky Jinks’ to weave his way through several tackles and over the line to score a classic Southerners try.
Skipper Perkins summed the game up well: “Fantastic effort by all players. I think this goes down as one of my most favourite wins during my time in BKK as we really were up against it for most of the game but actually finished the stronger of the 2 teams.”
A proud element of the Southerners rugby philosophy is its support of local Thai rugby players, with continued support over many years now flourishing into a formidable stable of quality Thai players leading the way across many positions.
The Southerners were proud to field eight Thai blokes in its starting 22 against the Bangers last Thursday – Lek, Benz, Bang, Sod, Lord, Kook, York and Park. This solid base was rounded out by two Thai-Australians (Al, Siam), four Aussies (Belly, Hooey, Reed, Ronan), four Englishmen (Simmo, Gearing, Toby, The Baron), two Kiwis (Skinny, Munny), one Scotsman (Scotty) and a lone Frenchman (Laurent “I do not like buffet” Virello).