The Zephyr Communications 15’s League got underway at the Nomad Sports Club last Saturday, May 14 and early markers were put down in their respective divisions by the Alabang Ibons and Nomads.
In the B Division match-up, both teams were brimming with youthful promise, however the major and telling difference, which was reflected in the one-sided score line, was experience. Both of the Paypon brothers have represented the National Under 20’s in the last two seasons and the lessons learnt at that level allow them to dominate in a game such as this. MAAP, not to put too fine a point on it, were chasing shadows as Jovic and elder brother Jeepy attacked relentlessly throughout the entire game.
With no obvious leader and a complete lack of defensive structure, MAAP were sliced open time and again and one had to feel for veteran referee Jay Savage in his valiant attempts to track to the weaving runs of the Ibon’s three-quarters.
Note worthy contributions were made by Jared Harrison, who bagged three tries, Buboy Biazon,Jr. with two and the visiting Cebu scrum-half Jerry Branzuela, playing in the dark environs of the front row, who chipped in with a popular brace.
It was though a day for the two brothers who learnt their rugby at the Tuloy Foundation in Alabang. They put on a stunning display of running rugby and notched six tries between them, in a final score of 87-0. The Hardy’s man of the match award went to Jovic Paypon, who then delivered the bottle of fine red to his mentor Father Rocky at Tuloy; no doubt with the same broad smile on his face as can be seen when he plays the game of rugby.
The second match, in the A Division, was a more traditional hard-fought encounter. The Nomads and the Eagles have had some ferocious battles over the years; at times games have been played with an intensity and focus bordering on the psychotic. That thankfully was not the case on this occasion. The passion was certainly there, but the nastiness, which has crept into these derby games all too often, was totally absent.
The first twenty minutes were scoreless as the younger Eagles pack stood up well to their experienced counterparts. Chris Hettel, a hero of the Philippines’ first ever international game back in 2006, seems to have found his way out of the rugby wilderness and playing at number 8, proved to be a handful with some strong ball carrying. He was well supported in particular by the ever improving Daniel Melrose, who yet again played with maturity beyond his years and game experience.
The Nomads team has undergone a much needed make-over in recent times. Many of the stalwarts of countless campaigns have sought the calmer waters of the Extinct Volcanoes, or have found themselves playing supporting roles from the bench. This has in no small part resulted in a sharper and more exciting outfit, which utilise their backline more than any other team to represent the club in more than a decade. No surprise then, that six of the seven tries run in by Nomads on the day, were contributions from the three-quarters.
On twenty minutes powerful wing Kevin Ogley touched down for the first of what was to be an individual try scoring bonanza for the American Yorkshireman. He clearly had the measure of his opposite number and within five minutes had bagged number two. One conversion and a penalty from outside half Danny Williams, meant the score line at the interval stood at 15-0.
It was the Eagles who shot out of the blocks in the second half, with speedster Billy Lionel scoring a try, converted by David Carman. Any thoughts of a comeback were soon extinguished as Nomads then hit a purple patch for twenty minutes, during which Ogley added two more tries, the first of which was a fine individual effort and showcased his full range of skills, with the ball in hand and with the boot. Aaron Briddon coming off the back of national trials and the evergreen Nigel Barrett added two more and the game, with the scoreboard showing 39-7, was almost done. Or was it?
The Eagles have great character as a team and their never-say-die attitude resulted in them narrowing the gap in the last ten minutes to a very respectable 39-26. The first try by Timothy Bweheni was absolute class. Electrifying pace and a monster handoff, which catapulted Nomads fullback Bruno Vergnes backwards, saw him cover seventy five metres for the touchdown. He must surely be in the minds of the national coaching staff come Sevens season.
The equally quick Rimex Davai then ran in two tries in the dying minutes as Nomads dug deep to protect a win, which although no walk in the park, was well deserved, on the balance of play over eighty minutes. Kevin Ogley’s superb contribution to the Nomad’s cause earned him the Hardy’s man of the match award.
Both teams will now face the Hapons / Carabaos All Stars in the coming weeks, but don’t bet against these two teams clashing again in next month’s final.
Report by Phil Gittus
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