Two quick fire tries in the first five minutes put English College (EC) in the driving seat towards their maiden Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) Premier 7s after a pulsating 15-12 win over local rivals, Sekolah Sukan Tunku Mahkota Ismail (SSTMI) at the MCKK rugby field recently.
In an exciting finale to the tenth edition, Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar or more fondly known as English College had been placed as favourites and rightly so as they won their first title since the championship’s inception in 2011.
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EC drew first blood in the 3rd minute in the all Johor affair, when a searing run by Mohd Ridzuan Haikal Mohd Rais, who was later named the tournament’s most valuable player, saw him touch down in the corner for a 5-0 lead.
EC failed to convert their try and they continued to pile the pressure with Muhammad Zakwan Mohd Yusof’s try extending their lead, two minutes later.
Undaunted, SSTMI, the 2017 champions struck back through a try at their at the death of the half time horn to narrow the deficit 5-10.
Business was resumed in the second half when EC again touched down in the end zone through Muhammad Naqib Abdul Razak but SSTMI but the drama did not end there as they came back through a converted try but couldn’t find the elusive score in the dying minutes.
“We were prepared for this tournament as early as January. In fact, we had met SSTMI at the Arau 7s in January, but we lost to them 22-17 after sudden death,” said coach, Abdul Hanis Mokhtar after the prize presentation ceremony.
“We had improved our tactical gameplay and countered their physical strength with our speedy wing play. We also had improved our defence and we took it game by game, even though we were placed as the top ranked team after the group stage,” he added.
The prizes were presented by the Raja Muda Perak, Raja Jaafar ibni Almarhum Raja Muda Musa. Also, in attendance was the Malaysia Rugby Union (MRU) President, Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya.
In the semis, top ranked, EC did not have any problems against 2018 champions, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Mersing (SMSM), running in three unanswered tries to win 17-0.
Their opponents in the final, four-time champions, SSTMI, were also in an unforgiving mood, trashing last year’s champion, Sekolah Menengah Sains Hulu Selangor (SEMASHUR), 48-5 in the last four.
Hosts, MCKK All Blacks could not avenge their loss to SEMASHUR in last year’s edition, succumbing 10-14 to the pace and power coach, Cikgu Mohd Soleh Abd Hamid’s in a repeat encounter in the last eight.
In the other quarter finals, EC did not have any problems disposing of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Abi, Perlis, 26-0.
SMSM from Johor, was separated by a converted try, winning 29-22 over Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Gombak (Integomb) while SSTMI fought back from 10-12 down to go through, 22-12 against local rivals, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tun Hussein Onn (THOR).
CUP FINAL – EC 24-0 SSTMI
3rd/4th PLACE – SMSM 12-19 SEMASHUR
PLATE FINAL – INTEGOMB 14-19 THOR
BOWL FINAL – SAS 17-29 ART
SHIELD FINAL – SYMP1 26-5 KSAH
ZAHARUDIN ALIAS TROPHY (BEST PLAYER) – Mohd Ridzuan Haikal Mohd Rais