Heineken brew crew touch glory

| 03/07/2012

finals1 (246x300).jpg(CRFU): The season finale of the National Touch Rugby Championships ended last Saturday with teams battling in the Play-Offs. Every game played thus far has been building to this moment – a time when a player can stand on the very verge of history – to be a hero or a villain. By “verge” I’m referring to that grassy bit next to the pavement on the side of the Road of Real History of course but you get my drift. Anyway, this is what happened. Photo by Caroline Deegan: Ray Galletly of Team Black almost escapes Chandra Friesen on Team Maples.

5th and 6th Place Play-off  – KPMG v. Walkers Blue Iguanas
KPMG and Walkers Blue Iguanas have both toiled long and hard all season and their play-off for the “Wooden Spoon” (the hypothetical and humorous prize for coming) was an entertaining affair. As a pre-amble to the main events of the day they played out a compelling game where tries were traded back and forth. In the end Walkers just pipped it 11-8 but both teams contributed massively to the season. They will come back next season wiser, stronger and ready to battle their way up the rankings.

SEMI FINAL 1 – DART v. HEINEKEN BREW CREW.

In blistering heat for the first semi-final, Heineken Brew Crew were red-hot favourites to beat a plucky DART team that have been improving all season. Suffering from depleted numbers in their match day squad, DART valiantly put up a fight but the Heineken team were fortified by the arrival for his first game of the season by the Fijian flyer, Venassio Toketokevanua. A sterling first half performance from DART saw them trail just 3-1 at the break however, they ran out of steam in the second half and Heineken ran in tries from all over the field. In the end it was a bit of a rout and Heineken Brew Crew advanced into the final on the back of an 11-1 victory.

SEMI FINAL 2 – TEAM BLACK v. MAPLES
The second semi-final was a closer affair. Both teams were packed with experience and although Team Black had edged their meetings in the regular season this was not to be a walkover. Giving Maples the respect they deserved, Team Black took to the field with a determined and resolute look that screamed that it was business time. No time for mistakes, they desperately wanted to be in the final to meet Heineken Brew Crew and avenge their own defeats of the season. They raced to a 3-0 lead with tries from Scott McCarty and two from James Waters.

Maples were shocked but drew on their reserves and with Simon Crompton tip-toeing his way around the outstretched grasp of his opponents they came back into it with tries from Chris Palmer and Crompton himself. It was 3-2 at half-time and it looked like an upset might just be on the cards. Team Black is nothing if not clinical at times and in response they rose to the challenge running in tries from Mike McGrath (2), Simon Raftopolous and Waters again. No matter how hard Maples tried they could not seem to get a foothold on the scoreboard and in spite of two further tries from Crompton they eventually were defeated 7-4.

The 3rd Place Play-Off – DART v. MAPLES
Third place play-offs are a strange affair – both teams disappointed by missing outon the final but still with some pride to play for. Played in an excellent sporting spirit, the players entertained the crowd with some “Concho y Toro” rugby – not champagne stuff but decent enough and reasonably priced! As the game progressed DART found themselves in front mainly due to the superb efforts of Riley Mullen who sprinted in with two tries and great defence from Stacey Ottenbreit, Fiona Brander, Debbie Strassburg, Kelly Fiebig and Sonya Sherman.

Maples contributed to proceedings with some great play but could not get the vital scores to break DART. Al Lum scored on the final play of the game to make the score a shocking 4-2 to DART. It must be reported that the island-wide rumours of Mark Robson dropping a massive clanger whenhe crazily fumbled the ball over the line during the act of scoring without an opponent within 20 metres of him are true. D’oh! Taxi for Robbo!!

THE GRAND FINAL – HEINEKEN BREW CREW v. TEAM BLACK
And so to the main event. The two best teams in the league came head to head in the final. This was the first time that Team Black had been able to put a full strength team together against Heineken and they were keen to avenge their two defeats of the season to this adversary in the league programme.

The game started with the sort of intensity reserved for modern day sporting warfare and the first blitzkrieg attack from Heineken saw Will Heyward burst through a gap to score inside the first thirty seconds. He quickly followed this with a second that rocked Team Black on its heels.

Heavily influenced by the South African one-touch philosophy, Team Black started to move the ball around quickly and replied with two tries of their own from Simon Raftopolous and Etienne Duvenage, who took a lovely inside pass from Sharlee Henshaw. It seemed that the game was well and truly on. After trading two more tries, Heineken started to exert a pressure to which Team Black simply could not respond. Like a crocodile pulling its prey under the water and performing a murderous death roll, no matter how hard Team Black thrashed they could not free themselves from the deadly vice-like grip that Heineken exerted.

Will Heyward added a fourth for Heineken before a controversial penalty try was awarded to them by referee Dan Twist. The confusion on the pitch and in the stands knocked Team Black out of their stride and it appeared as if they were beginning to panic as the scoreboard started to get away from them. The pressure started to show as both Mike McGrath (Team Black) and Dave Bailey (Heineken) were sent from the field to sit on the Naughty Step until they could behave. Team Black still had the majority of possession and probed and prodded all over the park but the final telling pass would not stick. At the half-time break they trailed 7 – 3.

As the second half began, it was time for one of Heineken’s other young bucks to shine. Just as Will Heyward had done in the first half Iain Currie did in the second. Running fast and direct and able to side-step off either foot he made two quick breaks that punctured the heart of his opponents. 

Team Black responded well again and time after time they drove at the Heineken defence but like waves crashing on granite cliffs they were repelled, either by a stubborn and swarming defence or by choosing the wrong option for the final pass. When they did score through Wiki Hitchman and Raftopolous, Heineken responded with tries of their own from Toketokevanua and Biannca Johnson. The crowd watched the ball ping from one end to the other as if they were seeing Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic pummeling each other on Wimbledon Centre Court.

Stuart Geddes and Duvenage again crossed the whitewash to reduce the deficit to two. For all their endeavour, of which there was plenty, they simply could not close the gap enough to cause Heineken to truly panic.  Buoyed in the knowledge that their youthful contingent could run all day, the Heineken oldies increasingly stayed on the sidelines as the young guns closed the game out. In the dying embers of the match Toketokevanua jinked and jived his way through in typical Fijian fashion to bring the final score to 11-8 to Heineken Brew Crew.

In reflection Team Black will look back on some missed opportunities either through dropped or missed passes but Heineken Brew Crew, with their potent mix of young and old, have been unbeaten all season and were deservedly crowned Cayman National Touch Rugby Champions 2012.

Category: Sports

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  1. Anonymous says:

    great stuff – a real treat to read with a cup of coffee and a hobnob!