The Manila Nomads proved once again that they are the reigning 15s Rugby team in the Philippines with a close win over the Alabang Eagles in the Fila 15s Cup division final last June 22. Nomads relied on their bigger forwards, their aggressive pick and drive style of play, and rolling mauls to gain territory. The younger Eagles took advantage of the experience of several Volcanoes players on their backs line. Tim Bweheni, Robert Jones, and Adam Clarke suited up for the Eagles for this very important match.
Nomads skipper and Volcanoes player, David Feeney, started the scoring with a pick and drive off the 5 meter line. Fly half Danny Williams converted the try to add cushion to the Nomads lead. Eagles responded instantly with a counter attack from a kick off. Jones outpaced several defenders and scored a try for the Eagles. As the try wasn’t converted, the score remained at 7-5 by the half.
After the break, Nomads were on the board again with a try by Williams. Conversion was unsuccessful but they were up by 7 points. An Adam Clarke try made the score even at 12-all. With the Cup championship on the line, both teams tightened up their defensive line and tried to outmuscle their way to gain territory. A successful penalty kick by Williams gave the Nomads a slim lead in the last 20 minutes of play. It was a defensive battle from there, as both teams tackled hard and forced a series of turnovers. Eagles were able to sneak in a try to take the lead for the first time in the match. Their try was converted for a score of 17-15 to the Eagles. Nomads turned to their experienced forwards pack for control over the last minutes of the match. A rolling maul from a lineout gave MVP Paul Retzlaff a chance to steal the match from the Eagles. Retzlaff scored a try and Williams converted it, sealing the win for the defending champions at 22-17.
Ladies Division: Manila Defeats Cebu at PRFU FILA 15s League Championship
The north and south ladies teams battled for another PRFU league championship title. The Cebu Lady Dragons, who won last year’s 15s match against Manila Mayhem, came to the field ready to defend their title. The Manila Mayhem, who won the 10s league championship against the southerners last March, were up for the challenge.
With both teams having at least 8 rookies– and missing a few key players on the lineup– it was an evenly matched game from the start. The match started off very physical, as both sides tackled hard to prevent each other from gaining ground. The Lady Dragons showed quality passing, which enabled them to swing the ball from side to side. In contrast, Mayhem demonstrated their forwards’ strength by creating a solid defense and coming up fast off the line. Mayhem opened up the scoring with a quick ball to the backs on the 5 meter line. Fullback Loujen Saldo found a gap and dove for the try. The Lady Dragons answered back with a blind side play off the scrum. After quickly picking up the ball, Number 8, Tonette Gambito, sped straight towards the line, outrunning Mayhem’s winger. Try was converted and the Lady Dragons were up 7-5.
Cebu Lady Dragons
Substitute player Lima, an 18 year old Papua New Guinean player from Cebu, made her presence felt early as she broke through several tackles and popped the ball to their speedy captain, Aiumi Ono. Ono then crossed the line and her try was converted. After a short regroup, Mayhem girls came back with two quick tries before the half. Mayhem’s forwards worked hard to draw defenders, creating scoring opportunities for their speedy backs. Ada Milby bulldozed her way to the line, while Nikki Lira scored a try between the posts after a quick pass from the backs.
The second half saw stronger defence and more aggression from both ladies teams. A yellow card was given to Lima of Cebu, which resulted to a penalty try for Manila Santos of Mayhem. Try was converted, bringing Mayhem up 22-14. Another yellow card from a high tackle resulted to Lira sitting out for a few minutes. The Lady Dragons were not able to take advantage of the overlap and remained unable to score on several opportunities. A loose ball from a broken play resulted to a breakaway try by Saldo. This sealed the win at 29-14 for Manila Mayhem, and Loujen Saldo was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Women’s Division.
Plate Division: Ibons Dominate Globe at PRFU FILA 15s League Championship
It was a tough battle for the much improved Globe Immortals as they played against an Alabang Ibons team composed mostly of speedy Papua New Guinean players. The Immortals, who were able to secure a spot in the finals by beating rival Maverick Vipers, were outran several times by the PNG players. The first 10 minutes looked promising as the Immortals held their ground and contained their speedy opponents. It was a physical match, but the local boys were able to gain yards and match up to the strength of their opponents. Fitness and experience spelled the difference as the Ibons finally out-muscled their opponents and swung the ball to their swift-running backs. A series of runaway tries gave momentum to the Ibons and disheartened the Immortals. A bad cut above the eye forced Immortals skipper and Volcano player, Jay Coronel, to be pulled out of the game, much to his team’s dismay. David Brissonnaud, Immortals’ inside-center, managed to put in a penalty kick, making the score 19-3 at the half.Globe Immortals
The second half was still an all-Ibons show as their PNG players scored try after try. Coronel was unable to return to the field because of the cut sustained in the first half. The match ended at 62-3 with Chris Karo, a PNG player, being awarded the MVP. It was a tough loss for the Immortals, but this match gave them the experience they needed to compete in 15s rugby.
Bowl Division: Clark Rugby Club Come From Behind to Beat QCPU and Win the Bowl ChampionshipQuezon City Polytechnic University
Clark Rugby Club made the biggest comeback in the PRFU Fila 15s League as they snuck up from behind to beat the QCPU Questors 24-22. QCPU started the scoring feast in the first half with quick passing and overall speed. They scored four unanswered tries with one conversion. Down 22-nil at the half, the CRC boys regrouped and relied on experience to crawl back from the huge deficit. A series of penalties in the ruck after the half gave CRC several scoring opportunities which they quickly took advantage of. Joe Mari Rauras started the scoring spree for CRC. They followed their structure by giving the ball to their forwards, allowing them to draw defenders, cause overlaps, and quickly swing the ball to the backs. True to the formula, they scored four tries and successfully converted twice. The last try came seconds before the end of the match. When the whistle was blown, CRC boys erupted in cheers while the QCPU boys stood in disbelief. It was a great win for the CRC boys, who showed everyone that no one gives up in the game of Rugby. It was a lesson learned for the QCPU boys: The match is never finished until the referee blows his whistle.
Thank you to all the teams who participated in this year’s Fila 15s League. Congratulations to all the champion teams. Next League games will be in August for 7s Rugby.
Cup MVP – Paul Retzlaff
Women’s MVP – Loujen Saldo
Plate MVP – Chris Karo
Bowl MVP – Jonel Madrona
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