The balmy evening of 7th January saw the rejuvenated Pattaya Panthers RFC taking on the might of the United States Navy in the guise of the USS Abraham Lincoln RFC. This was the Panthers first match of the New Year following a recent AGM, which saw the injection of some new blood into the team’s organisation.
The game took place on a cool and mild evening under the floodlights at the splendid Horseshoe Point Resort. The late kick-off meant relatively fresh conditions, which made a pleasant change from the usual hot and sticky weather that we are used to.
Tong (far left) breaks free from the back of the scrum to attack the U.S. Navy back line.
Under the guidance of coach Des Halls and led by newly installed Captain Adrien Simon the Panthers fielded a strong squad, with competition for places seeing some of the older regular players make way for some of the younger blood.
The Panthers won the toss and this was a good omen, as from the first blow on referee Mike Gilbert’s whistle they started in a very decisive manner. The forwards reclaimed the ball from the Panthers kick-off and following a series of 17 phases scored the first try of the night scored by Captain Adrien, who easily converted his own try.
Pattaya Panthers Chairman Jim Howard congratulates both teams after the match.
The Abraham Lincoln boys responded strongly and pressed into the Panther’s 25 and with the Panther’s line in sight threw a wayward pass that was intercepted by Panther’s greyhound winger Derrick, who sprinted the length of the field to touch down under the posts for the second try, which was again converted by Captain Adrien.
The Panthers kept the momentum going, with fly-half Adrien dictating the game decisively in his first match as captain. The score at the end of the first period was 38-0 with further tries from Marcus, Olivier, Lindon and Khun Tong.
The second period saw the scrums become contested and every scrum was heavily fought in a fairly even battle up front. Credit to all the Panther’s forwards from 1-8, who held their own against a bigger and stronger US pack. The Abraham Lincoln however finally got onto the scoreboard with one of their big forwards driving over from close range after a period of sustained pressure on the Panther’s try line.
The Panthers responded well after a break through the centres took them to within metres of the opponents’ line before Adrien was able to pick up and dive over for his second try of the night. A further try was added by flanker Khun Tai.
The third period continued to be hotly contested with the USS Abraham Lincoln team putting in 100% + effort. The Panther’s forwards however were able to capitalise on their opponents’ lack of experience and secured lots of good ball for the backs and the pressure paid off with a flurry of last minute tries from Adrien, Josh and Lindon. At the final whistle the score was 69-5 with Adrien (2) & Khun Tong (5) having converted 7 out of the 11 tries.
It was a great all round performance from the “new look” Panthers with high work rate from all the forwards who set the groundwork for some exciting backline play. The game was well controlled by guest referee Mike Gilbert, who complimented both teams on their enthusiasm.
Following the game, the teams convened poolside for a few refreshments (and a very entertaining “belly-flop” dive competition that was won convincingly by the US boys) before heading to Jamesons Irish Pub for some food and further liquid refreshment and revelry that continued late into the night.
The Panthers wish to thank everybody that supported the game; Mike Gilbert, the staff at Horseshoe Point, and the USS Abraham Lincoln for providing a sporting and fair opposition and look forward to hosting them or any of their sister ships again next time they are in port.
The Pattaya Panthers RFC meets every Thursday evening at Horseshoe Point from 7.00pm for training and new members or rugby enthusiasts are always welcome. For more information please visit: http://www.pattayapanthers.com or contact Paul Crouch at [email protected]