South African team The Dynamiters were full of boundless energy that defied their veteran line-up in winning the ANZ Royal Angkor 10s rugby honours on Saturday at Old Stadium with a 17-5 win at the expense of the decidedly youthful Sisowath Knights.
The Dynamiters are the oldest club in the Rainbow Nation, with a history going all the way back to 1875. The visiting squad featured an average age of 45 years old, with members ranging from 35 to 67.
The dress rehearsal on Friday for this grand show was equally exciting for the Dynamiters, who carried their vast experience to a popular victory in a four-team 15s event celebrating the traditional Old Boys reunion.
Australia’s Boxhill Unquenchables finished second ahead of Indochine Barbarians, a combined unit from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Local hopes The Undesirables failed to break the duck.
“It is a memorable double for us on our first visit to Cambodia. Our spirit and experience counted in the end,” Dynamiters captain Steve Ray told the Post and noted that the final had been made harder by the fact that their semifinal against Singapore’s Tanglin Thunderbirds had gone into extra time.
If not for a timely change of heart, the Dynamiters would not have made this unforgettable trip.
“Our plan was to follow the Springboks in their tour of Argentina. Somehow that did not work out and we sought out this event instead,” added Ray.
“Most of our players have been seasoned rugby leaguers back in South Africa. A few of them have played high grade rugby. So I was not unduly worried about the age factor. I knew all all along that our players had great passion and will not got down without a fight.”
Three trys and a conversion towered over a late five-pointer for the Knights, who tried desperately hard in full knowledge that they were the first Cambodian side to make the final of this prestigious annual event in recent memory.
Winger Reagan Anderson was outstanding throughout the day and brought genuine fluency to the Dynamiters passing and attacking movements. It was he who charged to the line like a raging bull minutes before half time for the side’s first score after a crossfield kick and a robust line out had given him an opening.
The visitors doubled their advantage quickly after resumption. This time it was Gavin Pfister who zigzagged his way past some tough tackles. It was left to Gareth Roberts to seal the deal once he got going when the ball was nicely spread to the fast lane.
Former Cambodian national team head coach Richard Flanagan, who turned out for the Knights, put their loss down to their rush-in strategy not working well enough against a side which had so much resilience in their pack.
“In fact we did better than them in scrums and line-outs but our attacking patterns didn’t quite work the way we planned,” said Flanagan, who will soon be eligible to represent Cambodia as a player.
One of the Knights mainstays and team coach, Dan Wetherall, credited the Dynamiters victory to their fluent wing play.
“We were well aware of the fact that Sisowath Knights were the first [local team] to make the final in the last few years. It was something special. Their experience was their real strength,” he said.
Earlier in the semifinals, the Knights played to their known strengths and deftly handled Hanoi Dragons from Vietnam in a 14-5 verdict.
But in stark contrast, the Dynamiters and Tanglin Thunderbirds were locked at 12-all after regulation time. In the dying seconds of extra time, the South Africans rattled the Singaporeans with a sensational try.
In the lead-up to the grand finale of Cambodia’s premier 10s competition, three classification match-ups were down for decision.
Dubai entrants GXD Larrikins took the Shield Final, beating local outfit Undesirables 10-0.
The Bowl final went to Singapore’s Bedock Kings, who defeated Cambodia’s Les Piliers d’Angkor 19-7.
In a tight finish, newly formed Ko Chul gave some cheer for the locals by beating the Southerners 7-5.
As part of grassroots promotion and youth initiatives, an U15 sevens friendly between LFRD and ASPECA organisations was staged.
The game drew intense interest in the stands. For the record, LFRD beat ASPECA 15-5.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]