Trinis rout Bajans in NACRA Rugby XVs

On Saturday, March 21, 2015, the Historic Garrison was a veritable hive of activity as the local horse-racing community prepared for their day’s racing, while in the middle of the Savannah, the freshly marked pitch and tents on the sidelines heralded hard-hitting action.

Shortly after 10am, the visiting South Shore Anchors, a veterans’ team from snow-bound Boston in the USA, faced off against a mixed local team in a fun match that was the highlight of the trip for our guests. Among the spectators were US Ambassador, Dr. Larry L. Palmer, Her Excellency Victoria Dean, British High Commissioner to Barbados & the Eastern Caribbean, her husband Marcus Dean, and several other visitors from Boston and other areas in the USA.

Age was not a factor as the two teams got into a physical tussle from the first whistle. The relative youth of many of the Bajan players was offset by their lack of experience and the game knowledge of the visitors. Playing in four quarters of 15 minutes, with frequent water breaks, the two teams traded the lead several times, concluding with a close fought 24-20 victory to the visitors.

Age was not a factor as the two teams got into a physical tussle from the first whistle. The relative youth of many of the Bajan players was offset by their lack of experience and the game knowledge of the visitors. Playing in four quarters of 15 minutes, with frequent water breaks, the two teams traded the lead several times, concluding with a close fought 24-20 victory to the visitors.

A few hours later, while horse-racing dominated the grandstand area, international rugby once again took centre stage on the pitch, as Trinidad and Tobago played against the Barbadian men in the NACRA (North American Caribbean Rugby Association) annual tournament. Long-standing rivalries aside, these two teams compete fiercely at all levels.

USA’s Haylee Slaughter was the officiating referee, under balmy skies, with about 200 spectators on the sidelines. After the national anthems were lustily sung by each team and their supporters, all at the pitch observed a moment of silence for Cristina Hogesteger-Barry, recently deceased relative of CuraƧao Rugby Federation President Arthur Hogesteger.

The Trinidadians moved quickly to put themselves on the hoard with a try from Anderson Joseph (11), but the gusty wind foiled the conversion attempt. Minutes later, the men in read struck again with another try, touched down by Ernest Wright (3) and successful kick converted by Felician Guerra (10), to put the Visitors ahead 10-0.

Trinidadians Akiel Smith (14) and Felicien Guerra (10) scored one additional try and conversion respectively. Unfortunately (from the Bajan point of view), this powerful domination of the game continued with a number of ball handling errors and miscommunications hampering the local men’s efforts to get their game flowing.

Several times, the Bajans seemed on the verge of setting up a good offensive drive, only to be foiled by their speedy and determined opponents. Big Bajan captain Stephen Millar (8), Anthony Faggiani (7) and Kevyn Murrell (17) used their weight and skills to good use but the team lacked the fluidity and sheer speed of their opposite numbers.

About 33 minutes in the first half, local youth Mikyle “Honey Badger” Walcott (9) who is also in the U19s Nationals, was finally able to use his agility and skills to put the men in blue on the board, to the delight of the local fans, who could be seen waving Bajan flags and celebrating on the sidelines. Kevin “Shakira” Carter added the conversion to take the score to 19-7 at half-time.

After the break, the Trinidadians took it up a gear, determined to seal their victory and humiliate their opponents. Some truly earthshaking tackles and hits ensued, with both teams making several changes during the first 12 minutes of the second half. Refreshed, the men in red began to score almost at will, as the Bajan defence crumbled. Tries were scored by Anderson Joseph (11), Joseph Quashie (12), two more from Jessie Richards (6) and one from Shakir Flemming (24) in the dying minutes of the game.

After the break, the Trinidadians took it up a gear, determined to seal their victory and humiliate their opponents. Some truly earthshaking tackles and hits ensued, with both teams making several changes during the first 12 minutes of the second half. Refreshed, the men in red began to score almost at will, as the Bajan defence crumbled. Tries were scored by Anderson Joseph (11), Joseph Quashie (12), two more from Jessie Richards (6) and one from Shakir Flemming (24) in the dying minutes of the game.

The Bajan men are now bottom of their pool, having gone down to both Trinidad and Guyana in this year’s contest. Our team was soundly beaten 48-22 in Guyana on March 7, 2015. This victory places Trinidad atop the South Zone Championship table, tied with Trinidad with 4 points but having a superior (scored) points difference of +37.

Trinidad will host Guyana on April 11, 2015, in a fixture that could well determine the winner of the South Zone. The current North Zone leaders are Mexico, who will travel to second place Cayman Islands for their fixture which is also on April 11.

Here in Barbados, the local interclub league play resumes on March 28, 2015 with Emperors v Tridents at 2:30pm and Renegades v Scorpions at 4:00pm at the Garrison, while the Get Into Rugby programme continues at several primary and secondary schools across the country.

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