Panthers go close in Surin

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Pattaya Panthers pose for a team photo in Surin.
Pattaya Panthers pose for a team photo in Surin.

Pattaya Panthers Rugby Union team got their annual tour season off to an eventful start from November 18-19 with a visit to Surin for a 10s competition.

Day one on Saturday was extraordinary in many ways.  The Panthers not only had a full complement of substitutes (17 players, including one female, in total) but also won all four games played without conceding a try.  Despite arriving in Surin after an eventful nine-hour trip, the Panthers were able to pull off a 5-0 win versus Vientiane Wild Hogs as a timely pass from Miles to Tom allowed for the only try of the game.

In the second game, it was more of a friendly versus the Panthers’ sister team from Khon Kean.  With Pattaya kicking off, the 10-minute match quickly settled with stalwart AD scoring the first seven points before Miles and Gaz combined to double the lead.  Liam then showed off his footwork, stepping left and darting right for the third try but Jurgen’s footwork was not so impressive with the conversion.  Matt sealed the game off with a fourth try and proved try scoring was easier than conversions.

The Brutal proved much tougher opposition, matching their name with great enthusiasm.  Panthers labored for the win with many forced and unforced errors.  Despite being pushed to the back foot, Tom managed to find the gap and sprint for the try.  Miles made up for his first game miss with the conversion to end the game 7-0.

One positive with the day’s delays was that Pattaya’s last game was played under lights.  Ubon University night classes were not so positive and they ended on the wrong side of a 22-0 thumping.  Tries from Tom, Rob and Gaz resulted in a 15-0 lead for the Panthers, though there was no conversion until Jurgen’s tremendous 60m run for a try and conversion.

Day two started late, which was perhaps a good thing as Pattaya faced a young, fit Air Force team in the Cup semi-final.  Air Force did their homework and knew how to play the Panthers, setting a high tempo and outsprinting the older and slightly slower Pattaya players.  They raced to a 19-0 lead before being contained.  Despite some gallant running by Gaz, chasing tackles by Chris and AD and hard tackling by the forwards, the Air Force was able to work the ball wide, both sides.  Slowing the game down, Panthers regain composure but still ended with an eventual 7-29 loss.  Air Force in typical style went on to win the competition.

The third place playoff was against the Royal Thai Army, and the Panthers looked like regaining their style with an early try by Mathew down the center making it easy for Jurgen’s conversion.  However, some quick wily play led to Army staying in contention with a try on the far right.  Panthers’ tiredness showed with handling errors slipping the ball for another Army try.  Unfortunately, the game was two 7-minute halves, so there was not enough time for the Panthers to claw back the lead.

Even with the disappointing two losses on Sunday, Pattaya Panthers were still the talk of the town and their place in next year’s event is already booked.  Chairman Jim and Captain Mander received the participation trophy on behalf of the club.