KUCHING: Maksak Sarawak produced one of their best achievements in the Maksak Malaysia Rugby 7s tournament when they emerged as the Bowl champions at Likas Stadium Complex in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah recently.
In the Bowl final against Sabah, Sarawak started superbly and led 19-0 at half time.
They controlled the pace of the first half and were swifter to secure possessions in breakdowns and were overall more disciplined in attack and defence against the tough and no nonsense Sabah squad.
The homesters came back stronger in the second half and managed to bulldoze their way to the try line twice in quick succession when Sarawak stepped their foot off the gas a little to give way to the Sabahans who trailed 14-19 with about three minutes to play.
Then Sarawak forward Mohd Irwan Abdul Rahman made a strong burst to break the Sabah defence line and scored the winning try of the match.
Sarawak led 24-14 with about a minute to go.
They played out the time until Sabah scored another concerted try to make it 24-21.
“I congratulate the Sarawak Maksak team for their achievement in winning the Bowl Final by beating Sabah 24-21 in a close affair but I believe we were in control of the whole game,” said coach Zulkaranainhisham Sarbini
“Team captain Mohd Adha Mohd Zabidi was brilliant in orchestrating the team on and off the field. He had shown great captaincy throughout the whole campaign.”
“In my opinion, winger Kamaruddin Padin is our best player as he scored the most tries for the team throughout the tournament with nine tries and Adha is the most valuable player,” he added.
According to the coach, Sarawak were frustrated in the group stage after losing 14-17 to Perlis in the opener.
He believed that Sarawak should have won that match with the attacking power that they had but made too many mistakes by knocking on the ball and losing possession unnecessarily.
“Nevertheless, we checked our mistakes and Adha led the team to win big against Melaka 36-0.
“We played to our true strength after fine-tuning the team skills in attack and defence. We lost our last group match 36-0 to ATM which were far a better team than us being well prepared for the tournament,” he added.
In the bowl quarterfinal, Sarawak whitewashed Federal Territory Labuan 36-5.
They were gelling nicely and the teamwork in defending was superb, having much of the ball possession and also winning possession from counter rucks.
It was another great performance by Sarawak in the semi- finals against Prison where they again showed a great display of teamwork and discipline to execute their game plans and pattern plays by beating Prison 34-5.
“This year we had a younger and better set of players. We prepared for only two weeks but managed to form a formidable team.
“There’s respect and honesty in the players’ hearts. We enjoyed our time together on and off the field. I believe that made a difference.”
“I would like to congratulate and thank the team manager Wazi Seman, physiotherapist Mohd Nafri Abdul Rahman and all the players for the opportunity to work with the MAKSAK Sarawak squad and hopefully we can do better next year.
“The target is to make it to the Cup/Plate category in 2019,” said Zulkaranainhisham.
Other members of the team were Mohd Riduan Mohamad Bakhir, Awang Ahmad Zuwairi Razali Mustapha, Hanif Hamdan, Syed Abdul Aziz Wan Halami, Andrew Goh Kok Thong, Zulhakim Wahed, Mohamad Arif Zawawi, Abdul Irwan Abdul Rahman, Abas Sa’at Mohd Salleh and Abdul Hanif Adam.
Wazi also congratulated the team for the achievement and thanked the players and officials for their strong commitment and fighting spirit during the tournament.
“I would like to thank Maksak Sarawak for giving us the opportunity to participate in this tournament and hopefully Maksak Malaysia will continue to organise this tournament and we will continue to support it with our participation.
“This is a very good tournament as it gives civil servants the opportunity to be involved in rugby and promote the sport. I would like to encourage all rugby players in the public sector to join our team in future,” he said.