In clear skies at Southern Plains on Saturday, the Santos Knight Frank (SKF) Mavericks took on their old foes the HMR Ibons to decide the 2018 domestic season’s SPI Rugby Championship while the Eagles RFC secured the Premiership Division.
The Championship encounter was everything the spectators had expected, a closely fought match where the weather could have been the difference between the two. With no rain, the match fell evenly across the playing conditions.
The HMR Ibons finished first after the regular season, taking out the Manila Carabaos in the first semi final. The SKF Mavericks, caused an upset over an experienced Subic Shark Jets team in the second semi final to book a place against the Mavericks last Saturday.
The Mavericks sped out of the gates early, holding nothing back, the Mavericks taking a 5 point to zero lead before Ronald Longasa went ahead with a stellar line break showing fabulous speed and footwork. Longasa set up the second 5 pointer for the Mavericks. The HMR Ibons fought back scoring a try of their own. At 12 to 7, the Mavericks slotted a penalty goal through Matthew Cowley to take the Mavericks to a 15 to 7 head start.
The HMR Ibons continued to threaten the line with their potent backline, continually putting pressure on the Mavericks defence. A converted try to the Ibons put them back in the match closing the scoreline to 15 to 14 with over 10 minutes remaining.
Strong performances through Jeremy Hernandez, Jed Dimaguya and Lito Ramirez kept the Mavericks in front. Consistent efforts from Jovic Paypon and Lyndon Adlao from the Ibons kept the Ibons in the match. After each team continually took each other blow for blow in a true tribalism form, it was the Mavericks who capitilized on a last minute penalty to secure the win, a penalty goal adding an extra three points, leaving it to a final score of 18 to 14 in favour of the SKF Mavericks and securing the 2018 Domestic SPI Championship Title.
“A remarkable final, one of the best in Philippine Rugby history. The Mavericks and Ibons can each be proud, one very good game of Rugby to watch” shared Jovan Masalunga, Competitions Manager for Philippine Rugby.
After an end to the domestic season, all eyes this weekend are on the national team the Philippine Volcanoes as they face Singapore for the Asia Rugby Division 1 Championships. The hometown heroes will be playing in front of what is expected to be a vocal home crowd, bringing international rugby to the home of local Rugby in the Philippines, Southern Plains, Calamba. Matches will kick off from midday as the Philippine Residents XV take on Penguins RFC for a pre-match curtain raiser with the main game at 3:00 pm.
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