LOCAL rugby team PSE Garudas obliterated an understrength Siem Reap squad 86-0 Sunday at the Navy base ground, serving notice to their next opponents, the Sisowath Knights, in the process.
The winners of the last four Premierships opened the rout with a swerving, angled run down the middle by lock Lim Bun Pov through tissue-paper Siem Reap defence, to touch down beneath the posts. Halfback and captain Pich Rattana converted his kick for a quick-fire 7-0 lead.
The try was a clear sign of things to come, with the speed of the PSE line and the accuracy of their passing game proving simply too much for the visitors, who travelled with only 13 players due to players’work commitments. Eventually some players filled in from an under-20’s match played earlier, but the lack of combination and familiarity was telling as the Garudas line was never really troubled.
Winger Bros Sophan crashed over moments later, despite ignoring a huge overlap, to double their advantage. Newcomer Tom Elvin was then almost thrown out of the front-rower’s club when he scored following a quick tap kick. Winger Vanak Vireak drew two defenders and offloaded to Ut Vuthy for a streaking breakaway try, which put Garudas 28-0 up at the first 20 minute drinks break.
The powerhouse club effectively ended the match before half time, with tries from Phorn Rawitt, Pich Rattana and a second by Bros Sophan to bring up an unassailable 43-0 half-time lead.
The cakewalk continued in the second half as a further seven tries were scored, including a second for Elvin, and a brace for both Vanak Vireak and spectacular winger Nheb Rata. His second try was the play of the match; darting towards the line and avoiding defence with a commando roll, before hopping up and superman-diving over the line in the one motion. Pich Ratana made good on eight of his 14 conversion attempts.
Garudas coach Brad Jones said the lopsided score allowed them to perfect their own style heading into next week’s match against Sisowath. “I’m very pleased with the boys, the way they’re actually starting to play a much wider game,” he said. “We’re moving away from trying to kick the ball past the defence, and we’re actually starting to use the hands to score tries. So it was a very good lead in for us against Sisowath next week.”
Vank Vireak started for the Garudas, as did big Kiwi prop Elvin, who stepped off a plane from New Zealand just two weeks ago and dominated, despite struggling with the Cambodian heat in his debut match.
“The new recruit did very well,” Jones said of Elvin, who has signed on until the end of the season in April. “I think his fitness levels were found wanting, but I’m very pleased to have him on board and not in the hands of Sisowath.”
Garudas currently sit on top of the Premiership, but only due to a superior points scored difference over Stade Khmer, who upset them earlier in the season. Sisowath are third by points difference over Siem Reap, but take on the leaders next weekend with their squad at full strength.