The Borneo Eagles showed no mercy when the top Sabah rugby team crushed defending champions Combined Old Boys Rugby Association (Cobra) 32-10 to win their first ever title at the 40th HSBC-Cobra Rugby 10s Championship at Padang Utara, Petaling Jaya, Sunday.
The Borneo Eagles, powered by 13 imports, dominated the 30-minute finale with well-coodinated attacking and air-tight defence enroute to five tries, two conversions and a penalty while their rivals made do with two tries.
Sandakan-based team manager K.H.Tan told Bernama, the comfortable win over the homesters came from sticking to a good game plan.
"Our players strictly followed the game plan by their coach Tomasi Cama. We have learnt and improved our style of play from the previous two tournaments we had participated -- the Borneo 7s and Singapore Cricket Club 7s," he said.
On the way to the final, Borneo Eagles topped their group without dropping a match, beating RMR Warrior 76-00 in the quarter-final and in the semi final, they stream-rolled past Penguin International of United Kingdom 22-0.
"Before the tournament kicked off, there was a lot of talk that the Penguin and Cobra were the two top teams that will win this title. But, as underdogs, we always work as a team and overcame our two prominent opponents with sterling results," said Tan.
The loss meant Cobra failed to clinch their sixth title since the championship's inception in 1967. They had won in 1968, 1972, 1977, 1998 and 2008.
"We were a bit unlucky in the final. Our strategy wasn't working for us from the start of the match," said Cobra coach Boon Hoon Chee.
Cobra topped in their group match by thrashing Swanbourne Nomads of Australia 21-5 in the quarterfinals and Alumni Sekolah Alam Shah of Putrajaya (ASAS) 19-7 in the semis.
Borneo Eagles took home the prize money of US$3,000 (RM10,500) while Cobra received USD$2,000 (RM7,000).
In the supplementary titles contest, the Plate Cup was won by Seremban-based NS Wanderers who beat Northlink College of South Africa 22-12, and Sabah Eagles clinched the Bowl Cup after edging out newcomer Indian Invaders 34-17, in the final.