by David Shirley
photos by Agung Sukmono
There were three things that produced this Banteng’s victory, after six games played throughout the day at the Jagorawi Golf & Country Club, Saturday May 4th – teamwork, tackling and taking opportunities.
The Bantengs started off like a house on fire, scoring three tries to nil in their opening match to comprehensively beat the Balikpapan Bears in the early hours of the morning. It was a patchy match with some sparkling moments. The Bantengs whacked the Bears for the loose ball and so left them with scraps of possession. The forward pack were dominant throughout the game, led by a strong performance by Captain Marco and a commanding tight five featuring Matt, Andrian, Mike and Alton. The late arrival of some players led to a reshuffle with Kiwi Dave moving out to beef up the backs for the early part of the tournament. The flying Fijian Leo starred in the opening game with two individual brilliant tries showing raw pace and evasiveness. Prop Fadmo sneaked through the line untouched for the third try. The result was a convincing all-round dominant performance from the team, however, ended in an unfortunate cracked rib for the hard man Alton, which ruled him out for the rest of the day. Alton then took up the role as motivator/coach from the sidelines.
The Second game was an automatic 20-0 win for the Bantengs, as the Old Twats opposition were a no-show (probably because they were on the booze the night before). This was then followed by a challenging third encounter versus the much fancied Polytechnic Merlimau team from Malaysia. The Bantengs stacked up early against the younger team, and the game was close until the Malaysian team stepped up the pace on either side of half time scoring a try within a minute of each blow of the whistle. The Bantengs played with determination, but small errors let them down at crucial times to lose four tries to one against the eventual cup runners up. Kevin played well in this game, demonstrating strong commitment on defense but was unfortunately ruled out with a knee injury. Frenchy Charlie was robust and hit the line hard scoring the only try for the Bantengs in the first half. Ageless and the ever consistent Matt was quick to the breakdowns, and the Bantengs were unlucky not to get a better result in this game.
The next game was against the Cup winners, the Singapore Wanderers, an all Singaporean team with a distinctly expat feel. The match was played in good spirits, but crucially the Bantengs lacked the possession to make an impact on the game which was played predominately in their own half. The five try to nil loss was probably not a fair reflection on the defensive effort from the boys, who at times were beginning to show good coordination and communication among one other after half time. However, in the context of the grand scheme of things, the Bantengs may have lost this battle to a better opposition, but it aided them in winning the war. Flyhalf Fendy showed touches of class and leadership organizing the back line and was aided by Frenchy Charlie, Max, Phillips, Dave and Musi in an improved coordinated defensive line in the second half, being able to cut down many of the impressive opposition well drilled back-line moves. The forwards were once again lead by a strong performance by Marco and good impact from Ferdy and Big Mike.
After playing two tough fought matches and a well-deserved Es Teler 77 lunches from the sponsors, the boys were recharged. The big boys up front were battling on well, showing improved fitness and dedication, with Greg, Azroi and Fadmo all demonstrating a solid platform for the scrum. Not once throughout the competition did the Bantengs scrum crumble to the generally larger oppositions, and the boys upfront showed real grit and strength. By the end of the round-robin games, the Banteng’s finished 3rd place out of 5 in their pool and through to the Bowl round. Their next game was against the Gosowong Barbarians in the Quarter Final.
The Bantengs came out looking hungry, despite their bellies being fill of nasi and ayam; they recaptured their rhythm. The Gosowong Barbarians proved no match for the Bantengs, who racked up three tries and were led by dominating performances by Marco and Matt both charging the lines on multiple hit ups. Andrian battled well at the breakdown, showing his strong commitment to the tackle and rucks but unfortunately left with a shoulder injury. The team began showing signs of confidence and poise as all the bench got a run, showing a willingness to attack from deep and taking quick taps. Leo again starred for the team with good contributions from the backs to dominate in attack and along with Musi scored the teams tries. Following the game, the casualties were mounting up, and the injury-ravaged Banteng’s were getting short on numbers, but were unexpectedly surprised by the late arrival of one of their star players Stephen, aka Jacob, the poster boy model returning from his photo shoot, which ruled him out of the earlier stages of the tournament, just in time to enter the semi-final.
Steve didn’t disappoint, showing his quality and class by helping give structure to the backline and improved coordination helping set up two tries to returning forward Dave and half back Yucil in a four try to nil victory over the Sumbawa Nagas, the other tries going to good individual efforts from Leo and Musi. If there were medals for bravery, they should all go to Yucil. It did not matter where they were or how big they were; Yucil brought them down or held on until the cavalry arrived. On two occasions, he brought down opponents more than twice his weight. The tough Sumbawa team were much bigger than the Bantengs, but commanding performances from the forward pack enabled them to dominate the breakdown. Man of the match ”Big Mike” did a series of commanding runs to break the advantage line supported by a well coordinate attacking effort from the team.
As the day turned into night, the Banteng’s had their tails up after two well-earned victories, they now we’re facing against the formidable Flying Kukris team from Brunei in the final. Again, another predominately expat team and who pulled in an additional three late substitutions from the Bali team to strengthen them, on paper they were highly fancied to win. However, today was the Banteng’s day. The boys were pumped and ready for battle, leading a fierce pre-game chant, in what commentators were labeling one of the best games of the day, the Bantengs were intimidating on defense across the field in a true team effort. Every player dug deep to meet tackle after tackle in a ‘trench warfare’ first half, which had the scores leveled at 0-0. The second half continued the same way as the first, the Bantengs were confined to their own territory for most of the game but were holding out time after time. The crucial moment game came when the Flying Kukris big number 8 made a break, but from there was cut down in a picture-perfect scissors tackle from Leo and Mike two meters out from the line, followed by the pilfer and turnover from Dave in cover defense and clearing kick from Yucil, which left the Flying Kukris heads hanging down and flying back towards halfway. Then a never-say-die Banteng’s team found a piece of magic, when winger Musi got the ball on the blindside of a scrum and outpaced the covering defense to score in the corner for the five-pointer with two minutes to go. Musi saluted the supporting fans cheering from the sidelines as the winger produced a match winning moment. The Bantengs dug deep in the remaining two minutes and the ball was cleared by man of the match Musi.
The day was characterized by teamwork, every player stood up when asked, battled on (many suffering injuries) and played from the heart for the team. Furthermore, the sportsmanship of both the Bantengs and old boys “The Me is Three” team was unparalleled, cheering and applauding other teams throughout the day, even establishing a ‘’guard of honor tunnel” on numerous occasions.
The Bantengs would like to thank the supporting friends and families who supported from the sidelines, the Komodo’s club for arranging the tournament, all match officials, referees and sponsors in what will be remembered as a fantastic day for the Jakarta Bantengs Rugby Club for years to come.
The boys would also like to ‘Hail to the Bus Driver’ and thank him and other supporters for enduring the terrible singing, rapping, beatboxing and chants coming from the enclosed back room of the bus on the long drive home.