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Phuket Vagabonds clinch inaugural title

Phuket Vagabonds clinch inaugural title

RUGBY: Wing 56 of the Royal Thai Air Force in Hat Yai was the venue for the first leg of the inaugural Southern Rugby Championship to be played on an annual home and away basis between Prince of Songkla Rugby and Phuket Vagabonds Rugby.

By Pat Cotter

Thursday 29 August 2013, 10:10AM

The game kicked off in soaring heat and the young, relatively inexperienced PSU side immediately took the game to the Vagabonds, and only some solid defense kept the scores level at the 15 minute mark.

A quick break by winger Graham Gallow from his own 22 set up some great interchange passing between forwards and backs to surge into the PSU 22, where a knock on gave the PSU the opportunity of a clearing scrum.

After being under pressure in earlier scrums, the Vagabonds pack put on the surge and a great heel against the head by hooker Simon Phillips saw scrum half Steven Cox set up captain Darryn Mathee for the first try which he converted.

Leading into half time, the Vagabonds’ superior rugby skills started to impose themselves on the game and some rollicking runs by crash ball inside center Dan Ashburn supported by No 8 Sean Gishen led to the Vagabonds second try by 2nd row Brett Pentland-Smith, who was visibly happy to have scored but disappointed by the lack of high fives from his side.

Once again Darryn converted to take the score to 14-0 with half time approaching. With the last play of the half the Vagabonds threw the ball down the line to take advantage of an overlap out wide, but a deliberate knock on by the PSU center resulted in a penalty 10 metres out and from the resulting tap and go Dan Ashburn smashed over under the posts for a converted try. Half time score 21-0.

QSI International School Phuket

At the start of the second half the PSU lads were visibly shaken by the resolute tackling of the Vagabonds and No 8 Sean's ability at the breakdown to create turnover ball for fellow backrowers James Clements and Adam Blackmore to smash holes in the PSU line, resulting in a try for Thai winger Lek under the posts.

By now the Vagabonds were playing some outstanding rugby with quick ball from the forwards with JP Sonnekus and Rob Honey outstanding at the breakdown and scrum half Steven Cox releasing at every opportunity the outside backs Colin Kazuki MacRae, Lek and Fijian Mike Whippy, who were coming more into the game with every move.

The support play was such that the PSU team couldn’t contain it and three quick tries from Sean, Simon and Darryn sealed the game for the visitors.

The PSU lads never gave up and in the last quarter they finally got on the board with a penalty and a converted try before further tries by Mike Whippy, Lek and Mut at the end sealed a memorable victory for the Phuket side.

Man of the match for Phuket was flanker James Clements. The return match for the Strategic Sports challenge trophy will take place in Phuket in November.

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