APBs' Seveali'i nails Saracens with penalty
Stand-in captain John Smit and his band of Saracens were left smarting after Samoan international Elvis Seveali'i knocked over a penalty with the final kick of the match to give the BGC APBs a precious 22-20 victory in the Chartis Cup at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
The former Springbok captain was less than happy after Japanese referee Taku Otsuki, regarded as one of the best in Asia, awarded the APBs (formerly known as the Asia-Pacific Barbarians) a penalty under the posts for 'consistently being offside'.
Smit, who was leading the side in the absence of Steve Borthwick, had a wry grin on his face when asked what he felt of that decision - and others during a stop-start match - which robbed the English Premiership team of a win on their first visit to Hong Kong.
'It's hard for me to tell you honestly because I would get into trouble,' Smit said. South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning skipper then added: 'For a game of this stature they should have got some referee who would have let the game flow.'
Smit felt aggrieved at what he felt were deliberate opposition attempts to kill the ball or slow it down. Saracens threw everything at the motley mix of former All Blacks, Samoan and Tongan internationals, and two excellent backrowers from the north, England's Nick Easter and Welshman Martyn Williams.
They opted to go for the lineouts instead of taking the penalties in the spirit of the game, but the APBs' defence held. Smit's take on it was: 'Yes, after eight warnings their defence kept holding.'
Losing was not an option for both teams and it made for an intense encounter, which sadly only around 5,000 fans turned up to watch. The pride of proving one still had the goods was what kept the APBs going, according to two-try hero Rico Gear.
Gear, who scored a try either side of half-time for the APBs encapsulated the spirit of the composite team. 'There are a lot of international players and no matter where you are playing, one wants to put in a good performance. You don't want to come out here and look silly.'
The 100-cap Welsh flanker, Williams, who had an outstanding game added: 'It was a good win considering that we came together only on Tuesday and that we were up against a fit and young Saracens side.'
Saracens drew first blood when hooker Jamie George touched down, but APBs hit back with Williams levelling and Gear getting his first of the night. Hong Kong-born Nathan Earle then struck back to put Saracens back on level terms.
Flyhalf Nils Mordt added a penalty on half-time to give the English club the lead before Gear scorched 40 metres to score and give APBs a 19-17 edge. Mordt's kick then put Saracens in front, 20-19. Peter McKee took play inside the Saracens 22 and the APBs won the decisive penalty. Elvis nailed it and the Saracens were all shook up.