by Arintha Adelina (14S05B) and Seraphine Chanentia (14S06N)
Photographs by Ng Chong Zheng (14S03L) and Nicholas Koh (14S06E) from Photographic Society
On 20 May 2013, the Raffles Institution basketball team lost a hard fought game to Anderson Junior College (AJC) by a final score of 44-37, eventually finishing overall 4th. While they may not have emerged champions, they certainly did not come out as losers. Our team kept fighting till the end, showcasing admirable perseverance and great sportsmanship.
The match started with AJC drawing first blood with a well-taken shot, eliciting an almost instantaneous response from the RI team when Daniel Lee swiftly countered with a skilful shot of his own. It was to be a breathless first quarter, as both teams appeared to be evenly matched. With both RI and AJC intent on preventing their opponents from scoring, the match soon stagnated at 5-5 as uncontested shots were few and far between. However, the deadlock was dramatically broken as AJC scored in the last few seconds of the quarter, giving them a 7-5 lead going into the break.
Our opponents started the second quarter strongly by putting together an unanswered 8-point streak, widening the gap to 15-5 within the first three minutes. Yao Zhong finally managed to halt the momentum of AJC’s attacks, adding two points for RI with his layup. However, this was merely a blip in an otherwise dominant AJC display, as they strengthened their lead by blowing open a 17 point gap with a score of 24-7 heading into the last minute of the quarter. Nonetheless, our boys persevered and managed to claw back points during the last few moments of the quarter, ending the first half of the game with a score of 24-11 in AJC’s favour.
But the team was not disheartened in the slightest. We started the second half with a bang as our basketballers sought to close the 13 point gap. Through a combination of tireless running and intelligent pressing, they forced a number of successive turnovers, showing that our team not going to throw in the towel any time soon. This fiery motivation brought out the best in our players. In a spectacular display of individual prowess, Antony Raharja made two free throws and even sank a shot from outside the 3-point arc. The boys attempted to leverage on this late surge, scoring a total of 10 points but were unfortunately unable to catch up to the AJC team, which stuck to its offensive gameplan. The third quarter closed with 36-21 as the final score.
The deficit might have seemed nearly insurmountable, but neither our team nor the supporters gave anything less than our all. In the 3rd minute of the last quarter, Yao Zhong was the victim of a heavy tackle from an AJ player after contesting for a loose ball. He crumpled to the court and struggled to get up, clearly winded by the sliding challenge. In true Rafflesian spirit, he managed to get back up and fight on, spurring our team onward. In a display of grit, tenacity and ability, the boys succeeded in battling back and quickly narrowed the gap to 7 points. However, the AJC side managed to hold firm, maintaining their slim lead over RI. Undaunted, the team pressed on and again tapered the gap to a razor-thin margin of 5 points. In the end, though, our comeback was not to be. The whistle blew with a final scoreline of 44 – 37.
Though we lost the match, both players and supporters left the venue with their heads held high, knowing full well that they had tried their best and given their all for RI.
Raffles Press would like to congratulate the guys’ Basketball team for an intense and well-fought match, and would also like to wish them all the best for next year’s season.
By Beverly Goh (14S03F) , Carol Yuen (14A01A) and Yu Xin (14S06L)
Having won 2-1 in last year’s finals against Victoria Junior College, the RI Hockey boys’ team set out to defend its title last Thursday. RI’s endeavour looked promising since the team had triumphed over VJ in a friendly match earlier this year.
VJ asserted their dominance as soon as the match began, bearing down on the RI team with relentless focus. Fortunately, our boys replied in turn, not succumbing to the intimidating challenge. As Jesse Hoo, captain of the team, commented, “We fought them like champions, united as one, fighting for the same vision we had been dreaming of for the past 5 years.”
RI had its opponents under control for most of the game. The players attacked and defended as though they had a full team even when they were three men down in the second half, a result of harsh decisions made by the referees. Three of their key players were sent off within a span of two minutes for minor infractions, whereas the opponent seemed to get away lightly with their fouls.
Venu scored a goal in the first half, to the delight of his teammates and us supporters. However, the referee disallowed a second goal because of obstruction of the first runner by RI players, bewildering spectators who thought RI was 2-0 up. Jesse lamented after the match that this decision came without sufficient explanation and a chance to demand for one.
Cheers from the Victorian crowd were overwhelmingly thunderous compared to the relatively passive Rafflesians due to a significant difference in numbers, but the hockey boys remained intensely focused on the match. While VJ had a reputation for strong short corners, converting almost all of them into goals in previous matches, the RI side valiantly fought back all their attempts and kept the scoreline clear. Even as frustration was building up on the VJ side, a lucky break for them led to RI conceding a goal in the last two minutes of the match.
With the score tied at 1-1, the game went into extra time. The exhaustion experienced by the players was evident as they made use of every rest opportunity to stretch. Several players had to rely on team members to relieve the cramps in their calves even while the game was ongoing. Tired as they were, they pressed on and performed to the best of their abilities.
Disappointed but not discouraged, they fought back and the score remained even for the entirety of the extra time. The game ended and it was down to the shootout, something they were unprepared for and did not expect. In the shootout, Venu and Benjamin managed to flick the ball into the goalpost and Hakeem, the goalkeeper, successfully denied one of the flicks from the VJ side. However, this was not enough to claim back the golden trophy as players from the VJ side strategically aimed the flicks right above the keeper, while two RI players made mistakes and failed to convert the flicks into goals.
With two misses by RI, the VJ team knew they had won, immediately rushing to hug and celebrate with each other. VJ supporters from the stands sprinted onto the pitch to join in the celebrations. It was a solemn moment for Raffles, as we, students, teachers, councillors, cheerleaders, all stood sharing the pain of the disappointed players on the field. For a long time, we did not budge. Eventually, we slowly made their way onto the pitch to console the team and show our support. Even as we sung our Institution anthem, we knew that nothing would make up for the deep anguish they felt.
The hockey girls, who did not pass the second stage and reach the semi-finals this year, were ardently supporting the guys in the match and sharing the pain of their loss. Despite the result, they were extremely proud of the boys because they knew that the game was theirs and they tried their best. “Even when the odds were against them, they continued to play as a team and we feel that that is all that matters. Well done boys, you guys were inspiring.”
Ask any sportsman, and he’ll tell you that losing is something all athletes have to deal with at some point in their career. Though we may have lost the match, Raffles Press would like to congratulate Raffles Hockey for their fine display of teamwork and tenacity, as well as wishing them all the best in reclaiming the title next year.
By Jonathan Tan (13A01C) and Regina Marie Lee (13A01B)
Additional Reporting by Mr Caleb Liu
Having narrowly lost to Victoria Junior College in the semi-finals the previous week, our soccer girls took to Jalan Besar stadium on Thursday, determined to win their 3rd/4th placing match against Meridian Junior College. “We came in knowing we needed to beat MJ and end the season on a high note,” said Choo Yunting.
The team was confident heading to the match: “Our plan was to play the usual game,” admitted captain Heng Suyun. “After having played the strongest team VJ before this game, we came into this knowing we could do it.”
Still, the game started off cagily with both teams reluctant to commit players forward and keeping the majority of players behind the ball. Neither side could control possession for significant stretches with kick and chase tactics being used to try and open up the opposing side, resulting in a rather scrappy opening ten minutes.
When Raffles did manage to go forward, the majority of our attacks came down the left flank where winger Koo Hui Fen stood out with her good close control and ability to get past her marker. It thus came as no surprise that the best chance of the half came from that route. After some neat interplay down the left flank, Hui Fen managed to get to the bye-line and beat her marker, playing a teasing ball low across the face of the goal from the left edge of the penalty area. With the crowd rising in anticipation, the cross just barely eluded her two waiting teammates who were looking to apply the finishing touch. The Meridian defence gratefully cleared the ball, ending the danger.
Still, Raffles continued to press on. Midfield dynamo, Liza Tay, in particular, was strong in the tackle, harassing the Meridian players into conceding possession. Her ability to win possession was often a springboard for the Raffles team to surge forward, and led to a few half chances. One of the best came when she won possession on the right, and spotted striker Emiline Elangovan darting into the box. She played a precise through ball, but a heavy first touch from Emiline allowed the Meridian defence time to recover.
Overall, Raffles had the better of the first half with arguably the two best chances, although they didn’t manage a shot on target. Meridian found themselves increasingly pegged back and were limited to two pot shots from well outside the box, which were comfortably dealt with by goalkeeper Chiew Wenqi. Much of the credit for that must fall to a solid Raffles defence, who with the support of their midfield, were able to close down space effectively. Suyun explained, “Our plan was not to panic, hold our ground, and wait for them to come to us. When they (Meridian) were still fit at the start, they could attack us. Hence, we ensured our defence was solid.”
The second half saw a tactical change by the Raffles team as they brought on Jane Ong on the right. Jane had been kept out of the starting line-up due to a knee injury and her introduction clearly made a difference, with Raffles starting to show more attacking intent. A track and field athlete, she was able to use her pace to good effect, and was noticeably the fastest player on the pitch, despite her injury. The Meridian defence, and the left back in particular, found it increasingly impossible to cope with Jane’s surging runs and ability to drive to the bye-line. Within a few minutes of the restart, the left back was pressured into giving away possession to Jane in a dangerous area, and Meridian was lucky to escape when Jane just failed to find a teammate in the box.
As the match wore on Raffles increasingly came to dominate possession with Meridian largely pegged back in their own half. They were able to put balls forward for their wingers to chase, and Liza was able to make a few good probing runs at the Meridian defence from midfield. Where Meridian did manage to clear the ball, it inevitably fell back to a player from the Raffles team, in particular Suyun, who was effective in a midfield anchor role. On a few occasions, crosses from the flanks or Liza’s mazy runs down the middle yielded half-chances, but Raffles’ attack found themselves up against a stubborn Meridian defence which successfully prevented the Raffles players from getting their shots away. It was frustrating for the players, even as they continued to put the Meridian defence under increasing pressure.
Then came the moment that everyone thought would win the game for Raffles. After good movement down the right, Emiline was able to brilliantly turn her marker and cut the ball back towards the penalty spot. Liza was perfectly placed and struck the ball sweetly, only to see it cannon downward off the crossbar and into the grateful grasp of the Meridian goalkeeper.
Tiredness was visibly getting the better of the players and the match began to peter out, with Meridian conceding possession far too cheaply in their own half. The Meridian striker cut a lonely figure as the rest of her team packed the defence, with up to seven players in their own box. Raffles resorted to trying their luck from distance, with Jane and Liza taking shots from 20 yards without really troubling the keeper. The final whistle saw both teams deadlocked at 0-0 despite Rafflesian dominance.
Meridian came out flying at the start of extra time, showing renewed attacking intent. After largely being on the defensive, they managed to break down the left flank before center-back Shayna Kam made a last-ditch tackle to snuff out the danger. With tiredness affecting both teams, the game become more open and Raffles responded with a break down the left of our own. Hui Fen made a purposeful run down the left, making a neat turn to leave her defender trailing. Ghosting past another defender, she dribbled into a dangerous area, but the Meridian defenders successfully managed to nullify the threat.
Then came the defining moment of the game. With the end of the first period of extra time in sight, Liza picked up a loose ball in midfield, jinked past three defenders on the right and drove in a low cross that fell to Emiline in the box. Unable to turn or get a shot away, she laid the ball off to Hui Fen who found Jane, in space, at the right edge of the penalty area. Jane took one touch to control the ball before sending it curling towards the goal, where it flew over the despairing dive of the Meridian goalkeeper and nestled in the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Jane fell to the ground, her arms raised in both ecstasy and relief, and was soon mobbed by her teammates.
Later, Jane told us, “I’m really surprised it went in. I was really glad, but I didn’t expect it, because I’ve just come back from an injury and am very unfit.” But nothing less was expected from the team: “I was very relieved when the goal came, but I knew it was coming, I believed that someone would score the goal,” said Suyun.
From then on, Meridian was playing catch-up and much of the exchanges were scrappy. Raffles, playing with ever greater confidence, had a chance to put the game away, when Liza played an excellent through ball to Jane, but her shot lacked enough power to trouble the keeper. They were almost made to pay when a rare defensive lapse led to a Meridian breakaway and a clearance from Shayna fell kindly to the Meridian striker. Thankfully, the Raffles keeper, Wenqi was alert to the attempt to chip her.
There was to be no other moments of high drama, with Raffles showing good discipline and teamwork until tension was finally relieved by the final whistle. The team fully deserved the victory, after a well-organized, astute and dominant performance. It was a solid team performance with everyone working hard for each other. They had a clear game plan to first soak up the pressure and then attack, and this was carried out very effectively. “They played well”, commented Mr Man, their coach, “the defence played well, but for us today, attack was the best form of defence”. I am sure the exhausted Meridian team would agree.
Photographs by Zhang Ziyu from the Photographic Society
After a gruelling 3 hour fight, Steve Ng from RI threw out a long shot that secured RI’s 5-0 win against ACS(I) in the tennis group finals. Immediately after the winning shot, he collapsed on the ground in sheer exhaustion as his teammates rushed towards him with beaming faces.
Steve’s match was the longest out of the ten matches that were played at Kallang Tennis and Squash centre on 9th May. Both matches were played against perennial arch-rivals: ACJC for the girls and ACS(I) for the boys.
The boys’ team put up a stellar performance. In the singles rounds, Lee Kai Yi won with a score of 6-0, 6-2 and Tan Jun Sing dominated his sets 6-0, 6-4. Of our doubles teams, Tan Jia Wei and Benedict Chua finished their games 7-6, 6-1 in an excellent display of teamwork while Basir Koh and Chris Wu put up a solid front as well, winning 6-3, 6-0. Steve Ng also defeated his long-time rival with 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 to top off a series of remarkable victories.
The girls’ team were not to be outdone, coming out ahead in 4 out of 5 games. The three singles matches comprised of Rehmat Johal who made a clean victory, winning 6-0, 6-0, Jennifer Wu, who won 6-4, 6-1 and Hannah Chew who persevered, but unfortunately lost to her opponent, one of the top tennis players in Singapore. In the first doubles, Stephanie Wong and Ting Yang Gin together won 6-4, 6-2. The most exciting match for the girls team was the doubles played by Sabrina Tan and Jean Iau, who played for 2 hours, winning 7-6, 6-7. 6-2.
The players were ecstatic about their well-deserved victory, being quick to thank their coach for his guidance and support. Yang Gin, when asked if she had expected to perform as well as she did, remarked “Before our match our coach gave us a prep talk and that really boosted our confidence. He made sure that when we went in, we played our best. Even though we can’t control the results we can control how we play. All we had to do was to play our best. So we were confident of winning since we played our best.”
Jennifer and Jean, captain and vice-captain respectively of the girls’ team released a joint statement, “Today was truly amazing, everyone fought their hardest and gave all they had. We couldn’t be more proud of the team for this very difficult win. We also want to thank all our friends and supporters who helped us throughout this season especially when the going got tough.”
For the boys, Jia Wei and Mitchell, the captain and vice-captain had this to say, “From the score line it may seem like a comfortable victory but it was a really tough game for us. We were lucky that we got a favourable lineup too! Really pleased that the team fought back really hard as some of the matches we came back from behind and won! Big thank you to the supporters that came down and CCAD for being constantly behind and supporting the team!”
While the fervour displayed on the tennis court was remarkable, the camaraderie between players outside the court was unforgettable as well. Once players finished their matches, they went on to support their other teammates playing regardless of how tired they themselves were. Every point scored by Team Raffles would be invariably followed by a volley of cheers and encouragement from their ardent supporters. The team spirit and selflessness between the tennis players made the victory all the more impressive.
Supporters were divided into two camps- the RI side and ACS family. Both sides screamed their hearts out, continually waving banners and also breaking out into cheers every now and then. Raffles supporters were more dispersed as we had players in all ten courts whereas ACJC supporters were concentrated around 5 courts and likewise for ACS(I). Despite this, our Rafflesian supporters still did a great job of keeping the Team Raffles spirit raging by roaring till their throats were sore.
Controlled playing and mental stamina were the keys to success in the tennis matches today. The head coach, Mr Weber Oh said the 5-0 that the boys scored was “one of the epic, best results so far” and was unexpected. Both teams scored better than what they were aiming for. He added that he was really proud as they had worked extremely hard for this day. When enquired about the secret of their success, he remarked, “The line-up was very good. That was an added advantage for us,” and for Steve, the fact that the opponent cramped before he did, helped him. He said “Both of them were equally good, but Steve held his nerve better than his opponent, which can be very difficult under such pressure with so many people watching.”
Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Raffles tennis team for their impressive performance, wishing them the best of luck for next year’s season.
A light drizzle fell over the stadium, but it did little to dampen the spirit of the players. Time and again, St. Andrews had bested them, and the Raffles ‘A’ Division Boys’ rugby team was out for vengeance, roaring their battle cries with grim faces and blazing eyes. This was, at its heart, a clash between the Saints and the Rafflesians, a grudge match between old rivals.
RI started the match and lost no time in launching a powerful offensive against the Saints, cutting off their attempts to struggle past the advancing line by sending them crashing to the ground. Unfortunately, while the team managed to clinch a penalty, their shot missed the goal, and the lightning alert siren granted the Saints a temporary reprieve.
After the short break, the Saints started the kick-off, but our line of defense held firm as we quickly regained possession of the ball. Even as our opponents tackled our players, we pushed them back, with the captain Matthew leading the charge. The team soon got another penalty kick, and this time, their aim was true, spurring wild cheers from the Raffles supporters as RI gained an early advantage, leading 3-0.
Our goal, however, had galvanised the Saints, who reorganised and consolidated their ranks. They put our team on the defensive, edging dangerously close to our goal line. After a grueling effort, the team managed to slowly reverse the Saints’ gains, bringing the match back to the midfield. The match grinded to a deadlock, with the ball changing possession with every passing moment, but with neither party able to capitalise on the opportunity.
Eventually, the Saints, being the more desperate side at this point, broke free from the deadlock, bulldozing their way through the pitch. Our team’s hasty, spirited defense fell short, however, as the Saints’ attack proved too incisive, winning –but thankfully missing– a penalty kick. Keeping up the pressure, they continued to blitz through the field, forcing a dramatic scrum right in front of our goal, bringing supporters from both sides to their feet. With a combination of grit, dexterity and sheer power, we managed to hold off the Saints, booting the ball back up the field and denying them a chance at our goal.
Throwing, battering, grappling, bashing, locking, shoving, tripping and head butting. Bruises, cuts, falls and sprains. This was war. It was possibly only the referee’s whistle for the half-time break that reminded us that this was also a game. The teams trudged back for a well-deserved rest, gearing up for the second half of the match.
The Saints led an early charge this time, scrambling to level the score. Their efforts finally paid off, with the Saints equalising after a penalty kick. Our team was evidently exhausted, but there was a resolute glint in their eyes. There was no way we would throw away our early lead and allow the Saints to win. Yet our adversaries were on fire that day, quickly reversing our counteroffensives to threaten our goal in a matter of minutes. The impasse of the game’s first half had faded away, with the match entering a whole new level of speed and ferocity.
The Saints launched wave after wave of attacks, crashing against our defense. Finally, they found a gap in our line, prompting a solitary Saint to sprint over a full third of the field to score a precious try. A successful conversion brought the score to 10-3. The goal was not without its controversies, however, as the referee had allegedly allowed the Saints to maintain possession of the ball despite them apparently dropping it.
Nevertheless, the pressure was on Raffles now. The Saints seemed indefatigable, surging against our determined defenders to make another attempt at our goal. Undaunted, we fended them off and spearheaded some deadly charges of our own, turning the tide to put the Saints on the defensive. There was wild energy in their onslaught as they fought through scrum after scrum, wrestling right before the enemy goal in a reversal of the first half. The Saints blunted our offensive and brought the fight back to our half of the pitch. This was an epic tug-of-war, just that we were pushing instead of pulling.
Then –through the tussling and tumbling, through the reckless rampaging– the sharp shrill of the referee’s whistle. The game was over. The Saints had won by the agonizingly close score of 10-3, beating us by a single try. The Saints supporters streamed to the field as one to celebrate their victory. It was an exhausting, exhilarating battle, with both sides giving it their all.
Our team was slumped in disappointment after the match. Some players were crying. Such was the strength of their feeling; such was the meaning of the game. Never should we underestimate the emotion and intensity of sport. But they were not forgotten, they were not abandoned, with our valiant, valiant heroes receiving a standing ovation from supporters of both sides for their herculean efforts. They did not let us down; they did the school proud. What we remembered was not the loss, but the fight.
Rugby has been called a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen. Perhaps that is because the teams, at the end of the day, are able to shake hands and acknowledge each other’s tenacity, ability and hard work with silent respect. Next time, we will avenge ourselves. Next time, we will defeat the Saints. For now, though, let us remember –and celebrate– what is truly important: the courageous persistence, resoluteness and sportsmanship of our ruggers.