Matthew is ACS(I)'s hero
Victory was in their grasp with one-and-a-half minutes to go.
With a 12-7 lead, Raffles Institution looked on course to be crowned champions of the World First Singapore Schools Under-14 Sevens Series at the National Stadium yesterday.
But their opponents, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), clearly didn't read the script and staged a gritty comeback, led by regular captain Matthew Lim.
With time running out, the 14-year-old centre (above) took advantage of an opening in the RI defence to storm through for a try.
His subsequent conversion gave ACS(I) a 14-12 lead which they held on to loud cheers from the delirious supporters in the stadium.
Matthew believes that his team's poor performance in the first half was down to pressure.
"At the start, the team were overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness, but it got better over time and we were able to make better decisions," he said.
The seven-a-side final was an exciting precursor to the main event yesterday - the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.
Raffles burst off the blocks, taking a 7-0 lead in the first minute through a try and conversion from Spencer Wee.
ACS(I) responded in the next minute as Matthew used his pace and body feints to great effect, scoring a try and conversion to level the score.
Both sides came out in the second half determined to deliver the killer blow and it was RI who led again through a try from Lee Kai Si, although the conversion was missed.
RI defended valiantly to hold on to their lead but Matthew's late heroics broke their hearts.
"I think RI gave their best today. We made many mistakes during the first half and we were not able to get the crucial tackles to keep them from scoring," said Sean Ng, ACS(I)'s Sevens captain for the tournament.
The ACS(I) boys were delighted to be given the chance to play at the National Stadium, following the footsteps of their seniors who also played the 2014 National C Division rugby final there.
"Being able to represent our school on such a big stage is an honour and it also gives the juniors (Sec 1 boys) great experience and exposure to the sport," said Matthew, a Sec 2 student.
"Age and size did not deter them and they just went all out. They really did us proud."