2015 KL Saracens saw in the new year with a Development XV friendly against Super League side ASAS at a rain soaked UPM on Saturday 3rd January. Despite the difficult conditions, KLS played a fast and expansive game and tested their Super League opponents to the limit for much of the three 25 minute periods played. The KLS line-up was riddled with youthful emerging talent, many of whom have been with the club since Under 9 times and even earlier. Particularly impressive were Gabe Lingan at fly-half (recently capped at U19 for the Philippine Volcanoes), Sean Muirhead at No.8, Alex Hodson at open-side and Malaysia U19 captain Daniel Hamidi at inside centre, all of whom exerted an influence on the game that belied their tender years.
A tight first period ended 3-0 in favour of KLS courtesy of an Aiman Fariz penalty (Bay of Plenty U16 in 2013 & Malaysia U18 in 2014), with the KLS defence functioning far better than was the case in the recent disappointing NICC campaign. The second period was equally fiercely contested, both teams showing great defensive organisation and resolve to produce a scoreless 25 minutes.
Having slightly held the upper hand for the first two periods, KLS conceded the first try of the day early in the third period when a speculative kick from ASAS was mis-fielded by the KLS defence following a loss of footing and the ASAS centre fly-hacked through to score close to the posts, the try converted to put ASAS 7-0 ahead in the final session of the day. KLS had by this time emptied the bench, replacing impressive line-out jumper Jack Lee and veteran captain Chris Hodson, amongst others to leave KLS with possibly the youngest line-up that the club has fielded to date.
This did not dampen the effort or enthusiasm of the KLS team, although youthful exuberance was possibly to blame when an attempt to counter-attack from their own goal line ultimately led to turnover ball by KLS and the second ASAS try of the day following a series of pick and go efforts and some heroic do-or-die try line defence from KLS. The try was converted to give ASAS a 14-0 lead in the third period, following which the KLS boys rallied once again to put ASAS back under pressure for the remaining 10 minutes of the game, however no further score was forthcoming.
What was hugely encouraging about the display was that 17 of the 25 man squad are still U19 or younger, which bodes very well for the club’s ambitions to progress to Super League status within the next 2 years.
Special mentions go to the wise old heads of Bolan and Chris Hodson whose leadership was a great example for all of the younger players and to Prev modelling the Saracens poncho proudly through the rain storm.