Cayman youth rugby enjoys success in the Bahamas

| 16/06/2011

(CNS): The Cayman Under 12 (U12) and Under 10 (U10) rugby squads returned from the Bahamas on Monday, after a very successful weekend tour in Freeport, Bahamas. The format involved a round robin tournament on Saturday and an international game for each level on Sunday.  At the U10 level, the Saturday tournament involved one Cayman select side, a Bahamas side and a Freeport Barbarians side (mixed Cayman and Bahamas team) playing 7-a-side.  After a number of fast paced and exciting matches the Cayman select side came out on top with the Freeport Barbarians taking second.

The U12 10-a-side tournament involved 4 teams. Cayman was represented by the Cayman Iguanas and Cayman Sharks, alongside the Bahamas' Freeport Warriors and Freeport Cheetahs. Once again, Cayman took the top spot, this time with both Cayman sides sharing the spoils, having drawn 15-15 after a hard fought and nail biting match- each team having beaten both Bahamas sides. The Bahamas, to their credit, seemed to improve with every game and, with no game having greater than a 10 point margin, it was a very good, even competition.

Under 10 International

Sunday saw the Under 10 age group step up to 9-a-side for the international fixture between Cayman and the Bahamas, with the Cayman side captained by the experienced Finn Galway.  Under the experienced eye of Cayman’s own NACRA referee, Alasdair Robertson, the Cayman youngsters flew at their opposite numbers from the first whistle and were rewarded with an early try from Hunter Wilkom, following powerful running by Captain Galway and fellow forward, Alfie Parker. 

The Cayman side showed their experience and technical ability by controlling possession before moving the ball quickly through their halfbacks to the talented runners in the back line.  Midway through the first half, Cayman produced a move of real quality when Joe Ribbins forced a turnover and, following excellent rucked ball, quick hands and vision from Doug Rowland and Tommy Kehoe, an opening was created for Trey Milgate, Mason ‘The Bull’ Duval and Justin ‘Jinky’ Derrick to run into. Derrick then cut back inside and unselfishly released Milgate to score, unopposed. 

With the game plan being executed to perfection, coach Rowland was able to use the depth of his squad, bringing on Wilson for Rowland at scrum half and mixing-up the back line further, with Milgate moving to fly-half for Kehoe.  Rolling substitutions and the sensible refereeing of Robertson allowed the game to flow, and although Cayman continued to dominate possession and field position, the Bahamas youngsters began to put more pressure on the Cayman runners and produced some exceptional tackling, clearly determined to stem the tide in the second half of the game.  However, coach Kehoe was in no mood to let the opposition get back into the game and he continued to bark instructions from the side line as Cayman went on to score 10 tries and win the game comfortably, 50-0.  Try scorers also included Jake ‘Wheels’ Bailey (2), Duval (1), Derrick (3), in addition to further tries for Wilkom (2) and Milgate (2).  Honourable mentions go to John-Ross Clough who played on through the pain of an injured hand, and to Finn Lovegrove for his hard work and powerful running up front.  

The performance by the Under 10 group of players throughout the weekend was exceptional, as was their behavior and the way they represented Cayman rugby and the Cayman Islands in general.  It is also a testament to the youth development program in Cayman with 8 of the 13 player squad having been in involved in the program for over 5 years and all of the squad having played together for the past two years. 

Under 12 International

With the closeness of the Saturday games at the U12 level and in particular with the knowledge that Bahamas possessed a number of very quick players, the U12 side faced a much sterner test for the Sunday international. They were however able to rely on a very strong bench, and the ability to rotate players in and out provedcrucial with Cayman ending up victorious 20-5, with most of the points occurring in the second half.

Cayman kicked off and were able to put Bahamas under pressure from the start, but Bahamas were able to withstand the hard tackling from the Cayman side and moved the ball well when they had the opportunity. After 10 minutes, the Cayman team made their first breakthrough. The pack were able to apply some serious pressure on the Bahamas 5 meter line and, having gone close on several occasions, were then able to release the ball out wide to the right where outside centre and captain Lleyton James was able to find the space and go in for Cayman's first try. The half ended with Cayman 5-0 up.

The second half began with Cayman's rucking much improved and this led to more ball being sent out wide through fly-halves Jared Duval and Drew Milgate. Cayman's next try, however, came from a series of pick and drives by the pack (following a penalty by Bahamas for being offside at the ruck) with Number 8 Devin Mourao charging forward, James Priaulx and Matteo Polloni clearing out and then tight-head prop Duncan Petrie, with assistance from other members of the pack, driving over the line to make it 10-0.

The next try was the best of the day with the pack stealing possession in a ruck and then quickly recycling the ball out to Lleyton James who was able to take the outside and beat several defenders before scoring, to give Cayman a good cushion with a quarter of the match remaining. Disaster struck at the subsequent kick-off, however, with confusion in the Cayman back line resulting in a kick and chase being scored by the Bahamas to make it 15-5.

The Cayman side were not about to let this one slip away and, following a fantastic take by Lee Lewis from the kick-off and his drive into Bahamas territory, continued to apply pressure on the Bahamas, resulting in a number of penalties in favor of Cayman. From this pressure, the final score emerged. With the back line all lined up on the left and Bahamas drifting to cover that threat, Danny Link cleverly fed Iain Robertson, who running back at an angle was able to score almost unimpeded.  Final score 20-5.

It really was a team performance with the whole squad participating in the game. This proved key over the course of a 40 min match in the midday sun.  The Bahamas, however, had plenty to be proud of and, considering their youth programme is somewhat younger than that of Cayman, showed plenty of promise. It is hoped that the competition can be an annual event now that the first Conch Cup has been established and Cayman has secured its place in history as its inaugural winner.

Gratitude goes to the Freeport Club, in particular Rob Speller and Pete Beirne, for organizing and hosting the event and to Cayman Coaches/Chaperones, Roger Priaulx, Chris Rowland. Alasdair Robertson, Mick Kehoe, Brett Hill, Tim Derrick, Steve James, Greg Link, Alan Milgate, Garry Southway, Stephen Duval, Shawn Mourao, Dave Bailey, Neil Galway, Bill Edwards and Neil Purton.

U10 Squad: Finn Galway (Captain), Trey Milgate (Vice-Captain), Hunter Wilkom, Alfie Parker, Joe Ribbins, Doug Rowland, Tommy Kehoe, Mason Duval, Justin Derrick, Jake Bailey, Ewan Wilson, John-Ross Clough, Finn Lovegrove.

U12 Squad:  Lleyton James (Captain), Devin Mourao (Pack Leader), Duncan Petrie, Seth Wacker, James Priaulx, Iain Robertson, Matteo Polloni, Keegan O’Connor, Matthew Elphinstone, Joe Purton, Aiden Clements, Danny Link, Drew Milgate, Jared Duval, Josh Boland, Becky Southway, Graeme Hill, Leo Bode, Lee Lewis, Hugo Tyson, Will Edwards.

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