Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Sharks kicked their way into the final of the Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) Darussalam Cup to defend their title yesterday.
The Sharks edged the Belait Pythons 14-7 in their semi-final clash at the Sungai Kebun Sports Complex. It was a slightly even battle between the two teams throughout the match with each taking the edge at their own moments.
Pythons' Petrus Anak Tuan could have gave his team an early lead in the 3rd minute through a penalty set 20m out in front of the post but unfortunately his ball just flew wide. Minutes later the Sharks were handed the same opportunity with a penalty from 20m out, which Mohd Aliuddin Timbang capitalised on to put his team in front 3-0 in the 6th minute.
Aliuddin went onto further his teams lead receiving another penalty around the same area to boost their score to 6-0 four minutes later. Things weren't looking good for the Pythons as they gave away another penalty to the Sharks 10m out directly in front of their post that Aliuddin went on to score to take the 9-0 lead in the 24th minute.
Aliuddin helped set up the Sharks first try after crashing his way through the Pythons forward and back line before offloading the ball to Mohd Khairul Anuar Hj Matusin who tapped down the try in the 61st minute to go ahead 14-0.
Going into the 67th minute the game was put on hold for a few minutes following a floodlight failure. Pythons Christopher Tugaga scored their only try of the game after scrambling his way through a number of Sharks to trail 14-5 in the 76th minute.
Petrus stepped up to take the conversion and added to their score making it 14-7. Sharks captain, Ali Abdul Aziz Dato Seri Pahlawan Brigadier General (Rtd) Hj Jofri admitted that they were on the winning end of the stick.
"I guess for the forwards it was a battle of attrition, we were battling from the start and as the game went on, as a forward pack, we started to gain that extra bit of edge because we were the fitter of the two," said Ali.
"It was a battle of territory as well, we didn't have much possession but we made sure that we played at the right places on the field. "That is what worked because from then on we capitalised on a lot of their mistakes, which gave us the early edge in the start," Ali told The Brunei Times.
Pythons coach John Beart felt that his team was finally getting into the game before the flood lights went off. "I felt that we were starting to gain a bit more momentum before the lights went out and I think they were off for maybe 10 minutes," said Beart.
"I think a lot of my guys switched off a little bit but again, no excuses. "I wish them all the best going into the final, they are a good squad," added Beart.
The Sharks will play the winner of the second semi-final match between the Dr Hj Kamaruddin Cup champions, Knights Rugby Football Club, and the Miri Rhinos at Sungai Kebun at 4pm today.