The 2022 World Flair NTR 10’s league kicked off on 13th August 2022. Chiang Mai University was the venue for the opening game and with the recent rain, the pitch was looking in tip top condition.
The home team, a combination of the CMU & Maejo university teams, were taking on Chiang Mai powerhouse club, the Chiang Mai Cobras. With three of the Cobras stalwarts, Captain Matty Valentine, Scrum half Damien May and influential hooker, Charlie Jones all absent, would the Cobras struggle? With overcast conditions and a dry pitch, it was all set for an entertaining game.
CMU/MAE kicked off and immediately came under sustained attack from the more experienced Cobras team featuring some old codgers and young Thai lads who could shift! With forwards Simon Dickinson, captain Dave McRitchie and Rowan Carroll, all carrying hard, it was only a matter of time before the space was exploited and Matt Nunn duly delivered after some fine work by center Napat "Boss" Kandee, put him into open space to crash over. Napat "Boss" Kandee converted to give Cobras an early lead.
Understandably the CMU/MAE lads were taking time to work out their game plan and gradually worked their way back into the game. The Cobras defence was such that any gap CMU/MAE tried to exploit was shut down immediately. After some fine work by Pattarapon “Rush” Ekdamrong at the breakdown, space opened up on the left for Kumporn “Parn” Natipong to break away and score. A fine conversion from out wide by "Boss" saw Cobras stretch their lead to 14-0. Just before the break, Napat "Boss" Kandee showed his class by ghosting through from half way to score a fine individual try and put Cobras 19-0 up at the break.
The CMU/MAE lads came out firing in the 2nd period and after some sustained pressure Baz broke away down the right to run in their first score of the day, being converted by Tawan. 19-7. A sloppy restart saw Cobras gain a free kick on halfway and before the CMU lads could get organised, Apina “Taa” Chinapat broke down the left to score in the corner. 24-7. Again, CMU came back strong and after a penalty conceded at the breakdown by Cobras, Josh Lim's bullocking run up the middle and offload, saw Kong slip a tackle, to go in near the posts for an unconverted try. 24-12 and all to play for. From the restart, Cobra Ry McLaughlin, broke from his own 22, carved open the opposition and looked like he would go all the way, only to stumble, allowing the cover to quickly stamp out the attack. The Cobras relentless style of play is hard to live with and two quick tries by, Kumporn “Parn” Natipong and a fine individual score by Kon Papadopoulos, had the Cobras extend their lead to 34-12 at the end of the period.
The final period was by far the best of the match for the CMU/MAE team, as they finally found their aggression and competed ferociously at the breakdown, gaining turnover ball, which provided EQ the space down the right to get on the score sheet, followed by Kong getting his second of the day. Suddenly the home side were back in it at 34-22. The Cobras defence slowly regained control and some powerful surges saw them get to within 10 meters of the home line before Rush picked up at the base of the ruck to crash over. Kong then capped off a fine performance by racing away for a score under the posts which Richie Davis converted. It was fitting that Pran, contender for player of the match, went in and scored his hattrick with the last play of the game. Final score CMU/MAE 22 Cobras 53.
An entertaining game played in the right spirit and bodes well for the rest of the competition with the next game Lanna Rugby Club v CMU/MAE on 20th August 2022.