On May 5, the Manila Nomads travelled to play the Cebu Dragons in the opening round of the 2012 JML 15s League.
In 37 degree heat, the teams took the field at the Cebu International School field for a fierce battle of territory and possession as the game remained without a try for the first 15 minutes. The Nomads took a clear size advantage into the game and it was a credit to the smaller Dragons players who continually pulled their larger opponents to the ground with Homer Bangay and Noel Flowers making several try-saving tackles to stop the ominous Nomads forward pack. Finally Nomads were awarded a penalty in the attacking quarter of the field and put on a tactful decoy move which allowed Aussie front player Nick Treweeke to steam onto the ball and set up a ruck only meters from the Dragons line. The biggest player on the field, Saki Tuisolisia, then picked up the ball and was impossible to stop as he took three Dragons defenders across the line with him to score the opening try of the game.
The Cebu restart did not make the 10m line and consequently this allowed the Nomads to go straight back into the Dragons territory. The Nomads were able to register their second try at the 26th minute of the game with veteran player Sam Chittick running onto the ball to score out wide and take the lead to 12 - 0. The Nomads then realized that if they kept the ball tight, they could dominate in the forwards.
The blistering heat was ceratinly taking its toll, as the Dragons players had to make twice as many tackles as the Nomads in the first quarter of the game. After the Dragons gave up successive penalties, the Nomads again found themselves in the attacking quarter and this time it was the Frenchman Eric Savina who actually passed the ball wide and then ran into the pursuing ruck to pick up a loose ball and score the Nomads third try.
This sparked the Dragons into a revitalized comeback with National A-team player Geoffrey Veracos showing some deft footwork, taking on the Nomads defensive line and beating some of the tackles by the Nomads forwards to set up some good field position for the Dragons to attack. The Nomads quickly regrouped in their own quarter and were able to thwart the attacking raid. Out of nowhere, Nomads speedster Sam Fogg decided to take on the Dragons defence from inside his own half and he split the field wide open as he ran 60m to score under the posts and give the Nomads a convincing 24 - 0 halftime lead.
With the temperature reaching 38 degrees, the halftime break was much appreciated by all the players and the match official Richard Radier, who then donned a hat for the second half.
JML's Steve Payne & the Dragons' Homer Bangay
The Nomads' size advantage was the difference between the two teams and time and again the Nomads won scrums against the feed which allowed them to both dominate possession and field position. Chris Anderson then scored from a push over scrum and the Nomads were never in doubt as they took the score to 31 - 0. Both teams then used all seven substitutions with the Nomads backs starting to run the ball wide against the less experienced Dragons defenders. This allowed Sam Fogg and Raphael De Colnet to both score on opposite wings. Danny Williams had plenty of kicking practice with the Nomads scoring nine tries and taking the opening round of the JML 15s Cup division by 53 - 0.
The awards function was attended by Steve Payne from JML with Nomads' Nick Treweeke & Dragons' Homer Bangay receiving best player awards and a bottle of wine for a hard hot day of rugby:
The next round of the JML 15s league will see all divisions play at Nomads on Saturday May 12th from 2pm.
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