February 16th March 2019
It was a beautiful Saturday morning, the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. The Lions awoke, but something was different today, they could smell something in the air, a feeling of overwhelming excitement in anticipation of the day ahead, and oh what a day it would soon become!
Everyone bundled into their cars early doors and set off to Chiang Rai.
Most players had arrived by 15:00 as they should have, the only people that were missing was the car with Tom, the coach, and apparently also the captain of the day. Everything kicked off at 15:30 when Tom had arrived, quickly the team was called out and the shirts were handed around.
Chiang Rai Bears Vs Lanna Rugby Club
Team line up:
Tom ‘Stubs; (Tight head Prop), Dave (Hooker), Stanton (Loose head Prop), 2 players from Bears (2nd row), ‘Mad Dog’ Jonas (Scrum Half), Phil (Fly Half/ Centre), Aidan AKA ‘Skreetch’ (Left Wing), Dtun the Destroyer (Right Wing), Chris (Centre)
This is the very first Team sheet for the very first outing of Lanna Lions!
Lions Vs Bears didn’t kick off for another 60 mins, giving the Lions chance to warm up. Throwing the ball about, whilst Jonas looked for his mouth guard, soon everyone was on mouth guard watch. (We never found his mouth guard)
As soon as the touch match was over, it was time, Lions Vs Bears. Everyone gathered round for a pep talk, as soon as everyone was pumped up it was time.
The whistle blew and we were off. Lions Kicked to Bears, already putting our defensive work to good use. However, the Chiang Rai Bears got the Lanna Lions on the counter attack, whizzing the ball out to the wing as the Lions clumped in the centre of the pitch, easily putting a try past us.
For some strange reason, the referee made the try scoring team kick to us, which kept happening throughout the match, so at least there was some consistency. The Lions went at it, running, dodging and passing the ball between themselves. Chiang Rai was putting in some good hits.
Bears had the ball and Lions were on the back foot after turning the ball in a ruck, the Bears whipped it out to the wing, dodged one player, then two, he was picking up speed. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Dtun, the Lions Thai player from Lamphun, hurled himself at his legs, took him straight out of the game, incredible tackle for a kid playing his first match. All of a sudden the Lions were riled up after such a performance. There was a lineout, Lions won the ball, Jonas to Phil, to Chris and then to Aidan. Tackle and a ruck passing back. Turn over ball again after so much ground won. They broke on the counter attack. Mad Dog, Skreetch and Chris made some excellent tackles to keep The Bear from scoring. Big Dave ended up with the ball. He passed it to Stubs who saw the vacant space at the back, gave the ball a hoof, and by magic, his old legs managed to make it to the ball before the Bears, and as if by magic scored the first Lanna Lions Try, missed the kick, leveling the playing field to 5-5.
The game kept toing and froing between the two teams, alas, soon enough the whistle was blown for half time, thankfully.
Water on board, Dave and Stubs gave the marching orders, what was needed to keep the game alive. Stanton and Jonas throwing in their two penneth when required. Tensions were high. The Lions were out for blood!
The second half was ferocious. It was a spectacle to be a part of. The battle had certainly begun, with scrums given left and right. Dave, Stubs and Stanton put in some huge yards with the pack, on a few occasions even winning the scrum from when the Bears fed it. Jonas kept his cool, dictating how the back line needed to work, although some of the poor decisions the referee was giving were definitely taking their toll on him (Later we found out it was the referees first proper match).
Chris kept jumping in to the line and making some hard yards when he could, his rugby league background coming in to use, smashing through tackles when he could . . . the Lions had possession once more, Jonas offloads, The Lions sent it right out to Aidan. He was away, like a whippet, round one, two, three, wow he broke the line, steamrolling to the try line . . . and . . . TRRRRRYYYYY . . . Argh, wrong line!! SHIT. Soon after the Bears turned the ball over and, on the break, twice they scored, also kicking over a conversion making the score line 17 – 5.
Don’t hold your breath too long though. The Lions went on the counter attack. After a huge scrum, the ball got out to the backs, after two rucks which Stanton and Dave smashed, clearing the Bears off the ball, a second rower was fed the ball, coming on at pace, he smashed the line and scored between the posts! Great play making from Mad Dog Jonas. 17 – 10 as the Lions missed another conversion.
The Bears Kicked to the Lions, again the Lions were at it, moving the ball well between them, until there was a ruck and the referee called for a scrum. Stubs, Dave and Stanton got ready for the push. Bind, touch, engage! Lions pack forced the Bears right out of the park. Once Jonas was ready, he dodged a player, off loaded to Phil, who again took on a Bear, driving forwards before offloading to Chris. Dtun had found himself in loads of space, calling for the ball; Chris heeded the call and passed it wide to the wing. He was off. If Dtun was in a race with a speeding bullet I wouldn’t know the outcome, as he ran he like road runner, he couldn’t be seen for dust. Dtun took on the whole team down the left wing. The Bears had no chance. Finally scoring the third, and much needed try for Lanna Rugby Club. Two points behind as 17-15. Then came the kick, straight over. 17-17. FULL TIME, THE WHISTLE HAD GONE . . .
Until Lonny, the head coach for Chiang Rai Bears, asked if we’d like to play an extra half. Why not! was The Lions answer.
Every player gathered round. Now it was do or die time. Each and every player was blowing out of their arse, however, this was now the time to settle it, for everyone to put in a huge last effort, to dig deep and go hard! Big Dave put in a huge pep talk before returning for the last half.
This match was well and truly a Battle of the Titans. No surrender from either side.
The pack kept pushing hard, now more so than ever the Lions scrumming was demolishing the opposition. But the Bears didn’t stop. They kept running with the ball, moving it down the line, finding gaps, finding space. They were giving the Lions a run around. Alas, the Lions played to their strengths, kept solid as a unit, and kept pushing the Bears back. There was another scrum in the Lions half close to the try line. The Lions pack put in a big push, won the scrum and Chris put in a fantastic kick to touch. Alas that was not enough, the Bears won the lineout and made a break down the wing scoring what would be their fourth and final try of the match, and kicked the conversion too.
24 – 17 the Lions were trailing with only a few minutes left on the clock. Was this really going to be how the match would go down? The Bears kicked to the Lions. They shipped the ball about themselves, keeping play close with going through a couple of rucks, until the Bears turned the ball over and were running full pelt again at the Lions. Phil, Jonas, Stanton and Aidan kept putting in huge hits, keeping the Bears at bay, whilst Dave kept putting in the hard work at the breakdowns. The effort at the rucks paid off and Lions once again had possession. We were into the dying seconds of the game, only a try and two conversions stood between Chiang Rai Bears and Lanna Lions. Jonas got the ball out, whipped it to Phil who made some metres forward before passing to Chris, Stubs was on the outside, there was loads of space, Chris off loaded to Stubs who saw the space and ran for his life, sprinting past the Bears . . . BOOM! TRY TIME! The score was 24-22 with only two minutes left on the clock.
Lanna Lions and Chiang Rai Bears kept up the intensity right to the last second. The whistle blew, FULL TIME AT LAST. It’s safe to say every single play gave everything. The Battle was over as the weary soldiers marched off to refuel with water. It was the Lanna Lions first ever match and they played with pride, with determination and solidarity. A hard fought fight that the score line shows with only 2 points between them in the end.
Final Score line: Chiang Mai Bears 24 – 22 LRC
TRIES: 2 Stubs, 1 Unknown Bears Player, 1 Dtun (Almost Aidan)
CONVERSIONS: 1 Jonas
The awards and speeches followed with the victors, Chiang Rai Bears, claiming the winner’s trophy. The Lanna Rugby Club Man of the Match was Dtun without a doubt. He played with heart, with determination and without fear.
It was a huge day followed by a huge night. Especially for Stanton and Aidan who stumbled back home by 3am . . . although, I feel Aidan had an even bigger night ahead after managing to secure a harem after dropping Stanton off at the hotel.
Thank you to every player that made the trip up. Chiang Rai is a fair distance, but everyone put in a top performance. Let’s keep it going!
We Are LANNA