St Andrew’s beat ACS (I) in B Division rugby finals, earning first title since 2018
It might have been a Monday afternoon and the start of another work week but that did not stop nearly 6,000 supporters from descending onto the National Stadium, carrying balloons, banners and flags plus plenty of cheer.
They came for the B Division boys’ rugby final between fierce rivals St Andrew’s Secondary School and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and were duly rewarded for their commitment, roaring each of the five tries in a thrilling 19-12 victory for the Saints.
It was St Andrew’s first title in five years. No wonder captain Jareb Seow was overjoyed.
The Secondary Four student said: “I feel very happy because it’s been a while since we’ve won.
“And to do it in the National Stadium, this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
His team started strongly and were the more aggressive of the two sides.
The Saints spent much of the first half putting pressure on ACS (I)’s defence, and were finally rewarded two minutes before half time when Ashton Tay scored the opening try. The Saints went into the interval with a 5-0 advantage.
Ashton, 14, was thrilled with his contribution. The Secondary Three student said: “When the crowds cheered and my teammates hugged me, I felt like I really belong in this team... This is the best day of my life.”
Less than 10 minutes after the restart, St Andrew’s extended their lead to 12-0 thanks to a try from Jareb and a successful conversion from Brendan Liu.
Despite the setback, ACS (I) refused to surrender and managed to reduce the deficit after Damien Loh scored a try.
That only seemed to galvanise the Saints however, as Tan Kai Wen scored his school’s third try of the final. Another conversion from Brendan made it 19-5.
In the closing minutes, Damien got his second try of the final, which teammate Jaryl Lee duly converted.
That put ACS (I) within seven points of levelling the match and they threw everything they had at St Andrew’s but could not get across the line.
The defeat ended ACS (I)’s stranglehold on the championship – they have held the B Division title since 2019 – and some dejected players were left in tears after the final whistle.
Second row and vice-captain Evan Tan, 16, was still emotional after the prize-giving ceremony. He said: “Our team just weren’t at our best today. They played better and they deserved to win.”
He was thankful for the stirring fervour generated in the stands from both sets of supporters and said: “The atmosphere really benefitted us. It felt good that everyone came down to support us today.”
Ashraf Nasser, who has been coaching the Saints since their last win in 2018, said: “They really stepped up. They were focused from the start, even in a big stadium like this.
“They had one goal in mind today and they achieved that goal.
“I was nervous for them from the start all the way to the end. But I try to keep it in because I have to trust my boys.
“The main thing is how they perform – I’m here only to guide.”
- Additional reporting by Lin Tianbao