Grand Final Thriller Wraps Up Undefeated Season for Jakarta Komodos Seniors Rugby Team

What a season! Let’s start with its awesome ending with the Jakarta Komodos Senior Rugby Side recording a 23-13 victory over the Jakarta Bantengs in the Grand Final. It was everything it was hyped up to be, and then some. Both teams came into the match fit, prepared and ready to give it everything. It was physical from the get-go, the Komodos driving forward, but the Bantengs struck first. A moment of broken play out wide saw a winger gather the ball and sprint round the outside for the first points of the game.

The Komodos hit back. Once again, driving the ball all the way to their opponent’s five. The pressure paid off in fantastic style. With the Bantengs backed up behind the posts, they won the ball. Flyhalf Scott Atkinson went to clear it, but Daniel Nugroho, captain of the Indonesian National team, charged it down, caught it in the air and went down for a meat pie. A brilliant piece of play, and with a conversion from Risto “Golden Tee” Peltomaki, the Komodos were out in front 7-5.

As the first half progressed, the Komodos took advantage of their momentum. Not long after the first, Chris Rumpel crossed for a second try, and the Komodos were up by two scores. Another try followed, this time captain Marc Thomson, the centre, converted to flanker, finishing off a punishing effort up the field from the Komodos to muscle in, and the team went into half time with a healthy lead.

The Second Act proved a grind from the get-go, the Komodos backline stifling ball movement between their opposite numbers and the forwards clashing relentlessly in the hopes of wearing each other down. As the Bantengs threw everything they could forward, the Komodos stayed in control, using their dominance in the lineout and scrum, winning Banteng ball in the air driving over to win Banteng put-ins as they frustrated their opponents.

Peltomaki found the posts for three points to break the second half deadlock. The Bantengs were not to be denied, however. Their efforts eventually paid off, and after a scoreless period they broke the deadlock with a try (conversion missed) and a penalty to pull within five points.

It was the Komodos turn to respond, and they did. Using disciplined pack play they continued to keep the ball in opposition territory. While the Bantengs missed some opportunities for points through the boots, Peltomaki found three more to give the Komodos a 23-13 lead.

But fatigue began to set in, and the Bantengs, seeing their best chance at finally winning a Jakarta title slipping away, came back with a fervor. It was a feat of mental toughness for the Komodos to stay calm and organized in the face of a prolonged Banteng onslaught to finish the match. It was a tense final 10 minutes.

But they held, and Adam “Adz” Taylor, would break through outside of the ruck for the Komodos for a run downfield, and as he was about to be tackled, his low kick into touch drew the final whistle. The Komodos could now celebrate their ninth consecutive Jakarta XVs Championship.

The final was a testament to the strength of Indonesian rugby today. Both teams playing at a high standard, with different styles and hardly anything to separate them, in a match played with the spirit of the game from everyone on the pitch. An absolute pleasure to be a part of.

There were excellent performances throughout the squad. Dominic Wong had another solid performance despite not adding to his formidable try-scoring total. In meters carried, he was in his usual prolific form. At scrum-half, Zac Smith once again executed his duties consistently under huge pressure, and at flyhalf Adrien Simon controlled the distribution. Graham Viliers-Tuthill was superb in the air at the lineout, stealing several Banteng throws, and the Komodo scrum was phenomenal, never in danger of losing their put-in and driving the Banteng pack over numerous times to steal possession against the odds.

The Grand Final was a fitting end to a spectacular season that was a story of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. A Komodo championship was a long shot when it began.

MATCH PHOTOS

A year ago the situation was bleak. The downturn in oil, gas and commodities hit Indonesia hard, and expatriates left in droves, and with them a host of Komodos. The senior team routinely lost large parts of its squad.

Just a handful of people would turn up to training. Morale was low, and some players (and a coach) even abandoned ship to join the Bantengs (how wrong they were!). The Komodos did win the league in 2015, but only with a big dollop of luck. The triumph came with two losses along the way.

But club stalwarts remained, and a change in training location from JIS in Cilandak to Senayan proved the catalyst. Training numbers rose, and a change in training strategy provided momentum that would last through the season.

The high-profile defections of a captain and coach injected a fire into the team that had ebbed away over the previous years. A competitive spirit was born out of the losses, and within a few short months training numbers were at a high not seen for years. By January, more than 30 people were attending.

With the return to action of long-time Komodos and figures from the expat community came a massive recruiting drive that saw new faces at almost every session. A new team mentality had emerged.

During a team retreat in Lombok at the end of the month, this new group forged a brotherhood that would prove unstoppable in the months ahead. By the time the season rolled around, there were too many players to fit into a match-day squad, and the team was in the unprecedented position of dropping people available to play. The level of enthusiasm for games reflected the sense of Komodo identity and competitive spirit that had emerged.

After an opening win against the Bantengs, and another against Universitas Negeri Jakarta, the Komodos put together one of its finest-ever team performances against the JJRG Samurai. Facing a structured and highly disciplined team, they operated with clinical efficiency in every facet of the game. By the final 20 minutes the game had collapsed into a rout.

The senior side also had a brilliant showing at an historic Crown Jakarta 10s. The Komodo Greens won the Plate while the Komodo Reds made it to the Cup final, only to lose to a brilliant Malaysia Polytechnic side.

A season like 2015-2016 does not happen without a lot of help, and huge thanks must go to our sponsors: Guinness, Eastern Promise, Jones Lang LaSalle, Crown (now a sponsor for 15 years) and El Asador. Many thanks also to Fez for their sponsorship of the Jakarta XVs series. None of this possible without you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We are always looking for new sponsors to take the club to the next level. Please contact komodochairman@gmail.com and indoperks@hotmail.com if you are interested to find out how to get involved.

Lastly, thank you to all the support we’ve had from fans and the rugby community we’ve had all year long. With the return of the Southeast Asia Cup and the chance of retaining that regional title too, there is plenty to look forward to.

Yours, Undefeated 😉
Blaise Hope
Chairman, JKRFC

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