The stones sink sidebar

| 10/04/2013

wk3a (252x300).jpg(CRFU): Furnace hot temperatures greeted the teams for Match Day 3 of the KRyS Global National Mixed Touch Championships 2013 at the South Sound Rugby Club last Saturday. The energy sapping conditions put paid to any chance of sustained high-tempo touch rugby with players having to manage their reserves to last the distance. It was also a day when teams’ strength in depth was put to the test and was a telling factor in the outcome of all three games. The highly anticipated game of the day saw the much vaunted SIDEbar NWNT take on the accomplished SteppingStones. This was a match-up of touch rugby royalty and the vast crowd was on tenterhooks amid the pre-game hype.

Many believed this to be a rehearsal for the Grand Final at the end of the season and so both teams had a chance to claim bragging rights and lay down that ubiquitous “marker” so much loved by sports media pundits everywhere.

SteppingStones welcomed Mike McGrath, Ray Galletly and Marc Randall into their team for the first time this season whilst SIDEbar NWNT was without their key triumvirate of Chris Palmer, Jyoti Choi and Simon Crompton. The first exchanges were suitably intense and when Brandon Smith crossed the whitewash for SIDEbar’s opening try, SteppingStones needed to rack it up a notch if they were going to get through this one. They “stepped” up their pace and returned four tries, the pick of which scored by Scott McCarty whose quick thinking at a tappenalty allowed him to run two-thirds the length of the pitch almost unopposed. Riley Mullen got one back just before half-time and at 4-2 SIDEbar were still in the game.

They had little or no answer however to the marauding James Waters whose acceleration through defensive gaps became increasingly prevalent in the second half and whether it was to score himself or to set up teammates the SIDEbar defenders were fed up of the sight of the back of his shining head. The heat was taking its toll and SIDEbar never really gained a foothold in the match. Scores by Jo Ziegler and Adam Huckle kept their tally ticking over but the result was never in doubt. SteppingStones ran out 9-4 winners with Simon Raftopolous (3), Marc Randall and Lisa Bird also getting their names on the scoresheet. James Waters took the MVP award.

Injuries and absentees to key players left the Heineken Brew Crew with an unfamiliar look. Up against a Walkers team buoyant from last week’s victory they started lethargically and it was Walkers who put up the first score with talismanic Vikki Piaso once again dotting down over the line.

For the Brew Crew Biannca Johnson started to exert her influence and Steve Henshawand Phill Thompson provided the go forward in terms of carrying in the early settles. But it was not the usual fluid performance from the Brew Crew. However, it is said “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” but on this day it was more a case of “cometh the three men” as Heineken were to rely on a trio of young colts who have learnt their rugby chops right here in Cayman.

Iain Currie, Paul Westin and Mark Westin may be new names in touch rugby circles but, as anyone with knowledge of age-grade rugby will know, these boys are part of a bright future for Cayman Rugby. They demonstrated a willingness to throw the ball around more akin to Sevens Rugby than touch but it was very effective as with youth comes vitality and, significantly, boundless energy. Like young pups they made scampering stop-start incursions into their opponent’s defensive line that continually had Walkers on the back foot. Three tries a-piece for Currie and Paul Westin and a brace for brother Mark as fellow Brew Crew-er and injured elder sibling Eddie sat on the sideline sore of shoulder but proud of heart.

Paul Smith was Walkers leading try scorer on the day, notching up his fifth and sixth try of the campaign. He’s scored in every match so far. Murmurings of “He ain’t ‘arf quick for a big lad!” could be heard around the ground as he ate up the turf with his giant stride. The final score of 8-4 to Heineken Brew Crew keeps them a’ top the table.

A wise man once said, “Make hay while the sun shines”, an idiom extolling the virtue of taking your opportunities when they best present themselves. And so in the first game of the day, below the beating midday sun, Genesis Trust reaped a real harvest of tries against a KPMG side which toiled in the field scant of reward for their labours. Shorn of their leader and leading try scorer Andrew Mackay, KPMG wilted under the intense heat generated by the wily old heads of Genesis.

They may have been ripened under the sun of many summers but this bunch of old fruits had plenty of juice in the tank, none more so than Lisa Kehoe and Michelle Bailey who ran amok with a vintage display as KPMG withered on the vine. Time after time, through a series of angled runs and dummy passes they broke the defence only to eventually be halted by the outstretched arm of a panicked defender. Such was the disarray caused by these incursions that in the next phase of play Genesis linked a few simple passes to score out wide. No-one benefitted more from this than Jerry “Five Tries” Beck.

Now, there have been some famous gloves in history. One remembers the 1968 Olympics where African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised a black leather glove during the US National Anthemas a protest against human rights abuse. There was Michael Jackson’s bejewelled single glove that became part of his iconic faux-military uniform, or the bloodied glove of O.J. Simpson, the focal point of his trial for murder. But now we have an up-to-the minute memory – the alabaster-white gloves of Mr Jerry Beck. Shimmering in the sunlight, like the blinding reflection of an arctic ice-flow, these whiter-than-white gloves seemed more akin to those worn by the referee at the World Snooker Championships than a game of rugby but none-the-less they seemed possessed of some magical magnetic force that compelled the ball to come his way and stick to them.

Beck ran in a personal haul of five of the best. A flag football aficionado, he really laid down the gauntlet and used all his skills and not-inconsiderable speed to dodge and outrun a stretched defence. As he came off the field at the end I swear I heard him quietly singing to himself a variation of the old Beatles classic “All You Need is Glove”. The other tries scorers were Mitten Lang (2), Michelle Bailey (3), Lisa Kehoe (2), Roger Priaulx (2) and young Neil Montgomery.

A final score of 15-1 to Genesis Trust makes painful reading for KPMG but one man, Gauthan Ganeshan, won’t be too sad as he picked up his first try of the season.
So, after three rounds Heineken Brew Crew sit on top of the pile but they have yet to be really tested. Behind them SteppingStones are waiting for their opportunity to take them down. Should be worth watching!

 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another informative, witty, balanced article from one of the best sports writers in the country IMHO.