The Taipei Baboons made it three from three on their 2014 Taiwan Tour by beating a committed Taoyuan County side 30-20 (6 tries to 4) last Saturday at Bailing Rugby field.
Taoyuan came out hard and fast and soon had the game by the scruff of the neck scoring the first try after some great ball handling and running lines. The ‘boons were quick to reply though through a try to flyer Dave Lee down the left wing. However, this was against the run of play as Taoyuan owned the rest of the first half scoring two more tries while the ‘boons struggled to adapt to the pace of the game and some 50/50 calls at the break down. The teams went into the half-time break with Taoyuan deservedly leading 15-5.
The second half was a different kettle of fish. The Baboons started strongly with a forward revival led by front row Graham “Bear” Harvey, Daicos “sewer-rat” Jeremiah and Rob “King of the North” Stark. Scrumhalf Ting Fan found himself with a better platform to feed his backs and centres Garweth Smith and Trey Mitchell started finding holes in the Taoyuan defence putting the Baboons into the oppposition half of the field for extended periods for the first time in the game. This led to flanker Gareth Hayes smashing his way over the tryline from five metres out to get the first second half try. Some great one-off running and excellent work at the rucks meant that the ‘boons slowly out-muscled Taoyuan drawing level with an excellent skip pass from number ten Ben Hall finding Dave Lee on the outside for his second try. The Baboons then took and extended the lead with scores from Rob Stark and Ting Fan. The ‘boons last score came from an excellent scrum, pressure putting the Taoyuan scrumhalf on the back foot and South African loosie Jan-Ras Van der Linde showing a galloping turn of pace to break off the scrum, intercept the pass and run forty metres for the score. With the game in the bag, Taoyuan managed to pull one back at the death, making the final score 30 points to 20.
Although not quite willing to describe his own play as Sonny Bill-esque (due to the erstwhile pugilist and current All Black centre’s dodgy performance against Wales) captain and Ben Hall was quick to point to the work done by head Coach and Dear Leader Peter Chworowsky as well as forwards and break-down specialist Warwick Taylor. “In the past the Baboons have relied a lot on individual play to win games, which isn’t very often the best strategy. The new intensity we’ve been training with and structures the coaches have been drilling have got us playing as a team, and that’s being reflected in the results. Taoyuan was a strong, well-drilled side but we ground them down by sticking to our game.”
Coach and Dear Leader Peter Chworowsky echoed his captains sentiments “Taoyuan County were young and fit. They were more aggressive than I expected, ran good lines in the backs, and had some good breaks through our defense to score several tries. Fortunately, we were able to make some terrific cover tackles, maintained our structure, were patient, and finally carried the day. I’m proud of our commitment and the way we’ve taken our training into the game.”
As always thanks to Lomu Tseng Wen-Yeh from the Taiwan Rugby Union for being the driving force behind northern Taiwan rugby. El Presidente Andrew Leakey (who has decided to get that boob and nose job while getting his broken cheek bone repaired – good luck buddy, look forward to the new look) for his excellent work behind the scenes. Of course, a big thank you to all the supporters.
Man of the match was going to go to South African powerhouse lock Kobus Theart for exemplifying the team effort by covering more ground, rucks, mauls and making more tackles than anyone else. However after it was learned that he pulled a hamstring sprinting after his own kick through, his award was rescinded. No lock or indeed tight forward should be sprinting that fast.
The next game will be against Jian Guo old Boys this week end, the 29th November.
More photos on www.twrugbypix.com (Photographer: Sheng-Kai Huang).