Tamaraws in tight thriller

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tamaraws serbia06THERE were hardly any press reports anywhere about the Philippine Tamaraws out-muscling the bigger Serbian forwards to win a Test match at the whistle, 18-12, at Cabramatta Stadium on Friday, February 5, 2016.


The Sydney press may have missed one of the most absorbing, thrilling and physical rugby league matches of the pre-season.

Even counting games in the major leagues.

Both sides played their hearts out for 80 minutes, Serbia opening its account with a classy try only five minutes into the game.

It was a wake-up call for the Filipinos, who retaliated with three successive tries.

tamaraws serbia09A barreling charge over the line by Rez Phillips left three defenders in his wake and sent out the first signal of the Tams’ fierce determination.

The Pinoys’ second try was a spectacular gem.

A kick from 10 meters sent Luke Srama and Michael Mason chasing after the ball with three Serbians in tow.

The ball bounced in-goal and soared out of bounds. Speeding ahead of the pack, Srama flew to catch the ball in flight and flick it back inside to Mason who grounded the ball.

Richard Goodwin added another try flying over the line on the right wing.

Fortunately for the Serbians, the Tams’ conversion kicks were unsuccessful.

Then, before the halftime siren sounded, Serbia suffered its first casualty with one of the team’s big forwards limping off the field injured.

At halftime, the Tamaraws led, 12-4.

tamaraws serbia02Serbia opened the second half like men on fire. They piled two tries in eight minutes to tie the score, 12-12.

But shortly after, a second Serb fell on a tackle and had to leave the field on a stretcher.

Again a fresh replacement came in, but that didn’t help much because a third Serb had to leave the field limping and be replaced.

The Tamaraws now had the momentum and the Serbians were visibly tiring fast.

Before the final whistle, Dylan Jones found an opening and shot through to break the tie and put the Tams ahead, 16-12.

The conversion kick by Ned Stepherson added another two points and sealed the fate of Serbia, 18-12.

Serbia’s desperate attack in the dying seconds, near the Tamaraws’ defensive line, sent shivers up the Pinoys’ spine. But the Serbians were denied at the final whistle.

Tams’ captain Luke Srama was named man-of-the-match.

In the opening match, Papua New Guinea humble the Philippine Admirals, 54-8.

The Admirals’ try scorers were Darren Henry and Johnny Grant.


Action at the Test game between the Philippine Tamaraws and Serbia at Cabramatta Stadium, Cabramatta: Top picture shows Serbian forwards (left, in red) menacing the attacking Tamaraws (right, in white). Middle picture shows Tamaraws captain Luke Srama (centre, in white) dictating play. Lower picture shows Rez Phillips barging through and over the line for the Tams’ first try.


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