Youngsters gain experience on tour in Bermuda

| 01/06/2012

P5131870 (218x300).jpg(CRFU): The Cayman Islands Under-12 Rugby side travelled to The Bahamas recently to play in the Fidelity Bank Tri Nations Rugby Tournament.  The tournament was hosted by the Freeport Rugby Club.  19 Players made the trip from Cayman.   Cayman visited The Bahamas last year and took home the trophy.  A team from Bermuda also attended this years’ tournament for the first time. The teams all assembled on the Saturday morning to take part in a round robin 10-a-side tournament which featured teams from Cayman, Freeport and Bermuda, as well as a Barbarians side which boasted players from all three participating nations.

First up for Cayman was one of the Freeport teams.  These guys had clearly put in some work over the season and Cayman were on the back foot from the get go.  To their credit they lifted their game in the second half and fought back gallantly, but it was not to be this time. A strong win to the home side resulted.

Cayman's second game ended in a narrow loss to a well drilled Bermuda side.  There was some good work in the front row with James Priaulx and Finn Galway leading the charge. Danny Link provided good service from the base of the scrum and also made a few solo breaks through the gap.

The Cayman boys finished off the day with a game against the other Bahamas team who were also a much improved outfit from last year.  However some silky skills and good burgling from Matthew Westin helped the Cayman side to a win, though Jevon Brown and Finn Lovegrove also stood out in the pack.

A few Cayman players were in the Barbarians side, resplendent in Canary yellow for their games.  They played well as a team and scored a few points much to the delight of the crowd and the animated coach Kehoe.

After an early night the boys were keen to get on and play the 13-a-side 'Test' matches on Sunday.  All the teams assembled for the national anthems before the boys took the pitch. Cayman's first game was against a very big Bermuda side. Game Captain Cam Galloway gave his players a rousing speech before the game reminiscent of one Mr William Wallace in the movie 'Braveheart'. However, this faded into a distant memory once the two teams squared up.  Believe it or not, one of their players tipped the scales at 312lbs. There were a few other large lads in there as well and the Cayman tactic of running them off their feet would have worked, if only they had the ball. They were forced to make the tackles and they did some crackers with Mason Duval giving the opposition players something to think about every time play moved in his direction.  The first half was pretty much one way traffic with Bermuda scoring several tries. After an encouraging few words by Coach Chris Rowland ably assisted by Side-kick Mick Kehoe, the Cayman team took the field with harder attitude. They retained the ball and drove as a pack with the big boys leading the charge. The maintained pressure on the Bermuda line and Tommy Kehoe used his bulk to power over for a well deserved try.  Bermuda weren't to be denied and they came away worthy winners in that match.

Cayman played their final Test against the local Freeport side.  Again the Freeport boys had obviously been working hard over the season and had also discovered some growth food.  However the Cayman side took to their task and stuck to the basics in the first half with some solid phases and promising breaks, but they couldn't get across the line.

Freeport managed to score two well worked tries and went to the break with a solid lead.
It was Mother's Day and a lot of Mums had come down to support their boys. Many of which were on the small side and were unlikely to get game time.  So, as a tribute to them, all of the big guns stayed off after half time and the smaller boys from both sides battled out the second half.  It was a nice gesture and the Mums appreciated it from their lounge chairs on the side line.  Back to the Rugby. The little guys from both sides were up and all of a sudden there was more space for some fast running rugby.

John-Ross Clough and Jake Bailey both made an impression out wide, while Ewan Wilson used the ball wisely closer in. The ball was moved wide and both teams did their best to score. Eventually the ball made it into the hands of the Pocket Rocket Dante Baptiste. With strength and superior speed and a nose for the try line, away he headed, but not before beating about six defenders on the way. A brilliant solo effort from one of the newer players in the squad.

The Cayman side got their tails up after that and retained the ball and continued their attack on the Freeport line.  Suddenly a gap opened up on the left. Doug Rowland went right…but then realised the gap on the left was still there and re-traced his steps and took advantage of the slow reacting defence to dot down over the line. The scores were tied and that's the way the game finished. Both teams were happy with the result and Mum's were ecstatic.

So, in the end a very successful development tour for the Cayman side gaining much needed experience against some strong opposition. Head Coach Chris Rowland said that he was happy with the efforts put in from all of the boys and also those parents who travelled as well. Rob Speller, the President of the Freeport Club is keen to have the boys back for a third year and a tour to Freeport next year looks definitely on the cards.

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That is the last of the season for this group and after a well deserved break over the summer, training will be back on at the South Sound Ground for all ages in early September.  Keep an eyeon for more details, and stay in touch with the latest happenings on Facebook/CaymanRugbyTV.

Photo top: Mason Duvall proves to be a handful for the Bahamas defence.

Photo bottom:The Cayman Team stand proud before the Test match


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