The U14 boys enjoying their first U15 tournament at Victoria Institution
Lots of action again for KL Saracens over the weekend of 16th & 17th February with the start of the IIUM Hexangular League for the 1st XV, another round of Epsom 6s for the girls U16 & U19, the U15s on tour in Melaka, the U14s stepping up to play in the U15 VI Invitational XVs and Academy running out in a XV-a-side friendly against Rhinos.
On Saturday, the 1st XV got their league campaign off to a winning start in Gombak, controlling the game through continuous phase play for the first 20 minutes to go a converted try up before a poor exit from their 22 saw Bumblebees secure some good field position, apply some sustained pressure and finally score an equalising try just before half-time. Bumblebees maintained the pressure after half-time, forcing KLS to look to the bench to bring some fresh energy to the game. This resulted in a change in the balance of the contest, KLS now winning quicker breakdown ball which allowed the backs to play with increased tempo and it wasn’t long before they made the break that they were looking for, with solid support play leading to the second KLS try. A third try was to follow from a Bumblebees 22m drop-out, aggressive KLS counter-attacking seeing the ball move swiftly across the width of the pitch as the backs combined to finish the Bumblebees off 17-7. The finishers deserve great credit for injecting intensity, bringing calm heads and the tenacity to close out what had been a difficult contest. The next league game for the 1st XV is against Mustangs on Saturday 23rd February, again at IIUM Gombak.
Meanwhile, down in Bandar Estek, our U16 and U19 girls were getting some more touch rugby match experience at Epsom College. With only 15 girls across the two age groups, a number of the younger players had to do double duty for both the U16 and U19 teams. The inexperienced U16 team saw a great improvement from the previous Epsom outing three weeks ago, with two narrow defeats and a creditable draw. The more experienced U19 girls had a good win against a strong Muar Predators side, drew a game which they dominated against KLOB and finally suffered a narrow defeat to Epsom College in what had been a fiercely contested round-robin format. Thanks to Coaches Henrik and Jai for doing such a good job!
The KL Saracens U16 and U19 squad at Epsom College in Malaysia with Coaches Henrik and Jai
So whilst the girls were getting a work-out in Bandar Estek, the U15 boys were fighting their corner a little further south in Melaka, at the NRDP Jumbo 10s. A very tough competition saw Saracens emerge from the group stage to face Batu Pahat High School in the Cup Quarter Final, but ended up the wrong side of close 15-10 scoreline. The U15 boys bounced back from that defeat to secure a Plate semi-final win against STJ, before another narrow defeat to Sains Johor saw them finish as Plate Runners-up.
The KL Saracens U15 NRDP Jumbo 10s Plate Runners-up
On Sunday, it was the turn of the U14s to get into action, filling in for our U15 team (who were still in Melaka!) in the U15 Victoria Institution Invitational XVs. The boys performed creditably despite playing up an age group and came away with one win and two losses on the day. The step up to 30 minute XV-a-side games was a bit of a shock to the system for some of the players, but an excellent development experience that will stand this team in good stead.
Finally, late on Sunday afternoon and back in Gombak, it was the turn of the Academy team to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into an experienced Rhino’s team. The friendly fixture was played in 4 quarters to allow for some coaching and player rotation during the game, with each quarter being closely contested and a final score of 22-0 to Rhinos. The Academy team showed some great defensive and cover tackle work and performed well in the set piece, but shortcomings in game management and finishing were ultimately the difference between the sides. Something to work on before next week’s fixture with Bangi Hunters.