Saturday June 26, 2010
SMSS Under-15 rugby squad need to improve to match top guns
By NG WEI LOON
email@example.com Photos by SHAARI CHE MAT
SM SAINS SELANGOR (SMSS) have a chance to re-evaluate their options in fielding their second line-up in the Under-15 section for the SMSS 10s tournament at their home ground in Bandar Tun Razak today.
In a recent friendly match against the visiting St Andrew’s from Singapore, the hosts had to revisit the drawing board when they went down 0-12 in the Under-14 encounter.
SMSS coach Raja Idris Raja Ali admitted the Under-15 defending champions Bintang Rugby Club (BRC) will start off as the favourites with a balanced line-up for this weekend’s tournament.
“Our players, comprising Form One and Form Two students, will have to adapt to the tactical approaches in the 15-a-side game. But, we will have several strong runners on the back line to fit into our plan for the 10-a-side competition.
The youngsters need regular exposure in competitions to gain valuable match temperament for them to combine effectively as a team. Besides aiming to do well, we are also offering the average players the opportunity to feature in the tournament as part of their grooming process. We are preparing them in our effort to form a respectable Under-15 side for next season,” he added.
The hosts SMSS will be fielding two teams each in the Under-15 and Under-18 contests.
A total of eight teams will battle for supremacy in the Under-15 section while nine teams will be in the fray in the Under-18 category.
“We have not gone beyond the semi-finals in the Under-15 competition in the recent years. We have not advanced to have a shot at claiming the top position for the past 10 years,” Raja Idris said.
This season, 18 of the SMSS players in the Under-18 squad donned the Federal Territories stripes at the national schools meet and they went on to finish runners-up behind hosts Kelantan.
Going into the tournament, SMSS will be out to maintain their good run winning the Under-18 section for three years in a row thus far.
“It will be great to stretch the hat-trick feat and chalk up the fourth consecutive victory. But, we are wary of the threat from other sides in ruining our ambition.
Based on our current strength, we fancy our chances. But, we do not want to be over confident,” said Raja Idris.
After the one-day qualifying round held in May with a total of 32 old boys’ sides in action, only eight teams have earned their places for the proper tournament.
It will be an uphill task for other challengers to match the formidable Sultan Abdul Hamid College Old Collegians Association (SAHOCA) from Kedah as they rekindle their old rivalries on the pitch.
Defending champions SAHOCA will have the services of current and former national players in their campaign to retain their title.
In addition, a total of eight teams will compete in the non-contact touch rugby Under-11 category.
Meanwhile, St Andrew’s showed their composure in the closing stage of the friendly match to upstage SMSS.
After crossing the line through Samuel Koh followed by a convertion from Syirazinurdinie Zaman, Akida Lim added another unconverted attempt to register their first victory in their playing tour.
St Andrew’s coaches Gene Tong and Ng Chee Keong said their charges were hungry for the win and they kept mounting the pressure on their opponents to break the deadlock.“Despite the win, we will be reviewing the team’s performance because there is still room for improvement. We are going through the pre-season training to prepare for a tournament in July,” Ng added