Raptors and ravens soar to touch glory

| 29/08/2014

(CTU): On a balmy Saturday night in Camana Bay the great and good of the wonderful sport of Touch came together to celebrate and contest the Finals of the Men’s Touch League 2014 and the Millennium Falcons Women’s Touch League 2014. In the Men’s Tournament the first semi-final was between the Raptors and the Samurais. Both teams had some notable absentees and so late additions to the playing roster proved vital in the outcome. The first half was played at a breakneck speed and the quality on show was impressive. The ball fizzed around as both teams tried to break through well-drilled defences.

The half time score of 0-0 belied the fact that this was some top-quality touch. Players were running on fumes toward the end and eventually the breakthrough came in the dying minutes when Riley Mullen and Scott MacDonald put the Samurais to the sword with dynamic running to score sending the Raptors into raptures and into the Final.

In the second Semi-final the Stallions took on the Wolverines – a real Goliath versus David situation. Stallions were seeded 1 having finished on top of the league table and the Wolverines hadn’t won a game all tournament. Stallions were quietly (but verbally) confident that a trip to the Final was there for the taking.

As the game started both teams were making impressive yardage with their early settles but gaps were starting to show and both squandered gilt-edged chances through either a stray forward pass or by dropping the ball in the act of scoring. It was Neil Montgomery, the Wolverines Captain, who started to pull the strings and he opened the scoring with a fine solo effort. Learning all his skills from his father Peter, reputedly one of the best young scrum-halves in Western Cape, Monty has been the heartbeat of this Wolverines team. As the pressure increased they doubled their lead with a nippy effort from their newbie Sandipan Bhomik. Stallions captain Ian Smith pulled one back but Mark Robson’s superb jinking run from all of half a metre out just after the break gave some day light between the teams. Further scores from Dennis Lee (Stallions) and Montgomery again kept the scoreboard ticking but Stallions became increasingly frustrated with their inability to break the Wolverines solid defence. A 4-2 shock win for Wolverines and they were into the final.

The Final itself proved a step too far for Wolverines. Raptors, marshalled by their Captain Marc Randall, may play more as individuals than as a team but the quality of those individuals meant that it was one-way traffic for much of the game. Stand-out performances from Riley Mullen and Chris Palmer who plays Touch like a virtuoso tinkling the ivories to a Mozart Piano Concerto meant that tries came at regular intervals. Wolverines had adopted an innovative rehydration programme both before the game and at half time but the extra fluids did not seem to impart any beneficial effect to their performance – a scant penalty try being the only return for all their endeavour.

As they pressed in the second-half two interceptions and breakout tries killed the game. So, Randall’s Raptors deservedly took the final 7-1 with scores to Mullen (3), Iain Currie, Chris Palmer and Richard Kerr.

The Samurais beat the Stallions 5-3 in the Third/Fourth place Play-Off, a disappointing end to a table-topping season for the Stallions.

In the Millennium Falcons Women’s League 2014 the first semi-final saw Ebon Hawk take on Eagle Transporter. The Hawks soaked up some early pressure from the Eagles but always looked like they had a bit extra when they needed it. Choreographed by Jane Smith, who from dummy half managed to make several line-breaks only to lack the vital support for the offloading pass, the Hawks exerted the pressure needed to break the Eagles defence.

Boasting a trio of Cayman National hopefuls in Smith, Kate Scarff and Jo Ziegler(2) they kept the score board turning over, Scarff scoring with a sublime dummy pass to wrong-footed the defender and score. The standout moment came from young Molly Kehoe who was the subject of much debate in the days prior to the Finals to see who could capture her signature to play on their roster. The Hawks won that battle and were well rewarded with an excellent performance and a try as well. The Eagles, with Karen Hart and Sharlee Henshaw making major yardage in the early phases of play could not convert their chances, their only visit across the whitewash by Carmel Harms and so a final score of 5-1 saw the Hawks go through.

The second semi-final was a much closer affair as Millennium Falcons took on Raven’s Claw. A fine brace from Emma Santiago and a score from Marida Montgomery were not quite enough to see off the experience of the Ravens. Tries were evenly spread across the decades with one each for Katie Bayles, Jo Remillard, Lisa Kehoe and Caroline Deegan – Raven’s Claw winning 4-3.

The final between Ebon Hawk and Raven’s Claw was a scintillating affair. Ebb and Flow, Cut and Thrust, Lunge and Parry may sound like the cheesy names of 1950’s British Comedy Duos but in fact accurately describe the way this game pulsated. But it was Raven’s Claw that ultimately pierced the Hawk flesh and with that same quartet of scorers (Deegan, Remillard, Kehoe (2) and Bayles) they managed to pip the Hawk to the Grand Prize, with Lisa Kehoe (only just) managing to outsprint daughter Molly for a try from halfway. A double for Kate Scarff and two for Karlie Cross were not quite enough to catch the Ravens who were jubilant at the final whistle but humble enough to know they had been in a real battle.

The Millennium Falcons beat the Eagle Transporters 2-0 in the Third/Fourth place Play-Off. The Eagles were quicker to the ruck but struggled on 4th and 5th touch options. Emma Santiago scored both for the Falcons and a breakaway sprint with Sharlee Henshaw in hot pursuit wasthe defining score in the game.

In a nice touch, no pun intended, Jane Smith (Ebon Hawk) and Neil Montgomery (Wolverines) were voted most valuable players in their respective leagues.

So, the RAPTORS and the RAVENS soar to touch glory at the conclusion of these tournaments. Some might say a shock given the form over the whole season but they certainly stepped up when it mattered most – on Finals Day.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    brilliant stuff!