Cayman Islands 18
Cayman are regional rugby Uunder-19 champs again and although only one man got on the scoring sheet for the winners, it was another magnificent collective effort.
This was a match between the best young sides south of the United States – and it showed. They both had massive respect for each other, cancelling out respective strengths and hoping to maximise on any weaknesses or mistakes.
In the event at the rugby club in South Sound on Saturday, neither team made any glaring errors but it was the trusty boot of centre Robbie Cribb that pulled it off. One drop goal and five penalties racked up all 18 Cayman points.
Cribb opened the scoring with a superb drop goal early on and hit a penalty soon after to settle nerves. Cayman had most of the possession and only some clever kicking and runs by Mexico captain Pascal Nadaud kept the score down. Michel Carner hit a penalty for Mexico just before the break.
Early in the second half Cribb made it 12-3 with two more penalties which meant Mexico needed to score twice for victory.
Cribb made things comfortable with two more penalties but Mexico refused to give up with Nadaud scoring the game’s only try in the closing seconds.
He was the Man of the Match and voted Player of the Tournament.
Trinidad & Tobago beat Jamaica 21-0 in the third place play-off earlier. Cayman beat Jamaica 28-22 on Wednesday to reach the final and it was Cribb’s vital kicking which secured the win.
So champs again, repeating victory against the same opposition. Cayman won 22-3 last year so the Mexicans can draw consolation from closing the gap.
Cayman captain Daniel McGrath said: ‘It was a good game and congratulations to Mexico for all the hard work they put in. Against Jamaica we had a bad second half but we improved this time.
‘Today we were more defensive, more reserved. It wasn’t a pretty win but we came together as a team and really worked together to retain our title.
‘The first time winning it is very special, but to do it again, especially on home soil, in front of your friends and family, it really makes you feel it more deeply. The celebrations are going on into the night.’
Cribb modestly deflected all the praise from himself. ‘It’s not just me, it was a team effort,’ he said. ‘There wasn’t that much pressure on me because I’ve got confidence in my kicking.’
Had he been practicing much since the Jamaica match on Wednesday when his penalties pulled them through? ‘No, I was relaxing on the beach!
‘I didn’t play against Mexico last year because of injury, but was in the game two years ago and knew that they are resilient and never give up.’
Dad Robbie Cribb Snr was beaming. ‘This was awesome,’ he said. ‘They played well as a team. It wasn’t just one or two stars, they were fantastic.
‘Robbie made the points but it was a great team effort. Actually, I’ll have to rough him up a little because he missed a couple of kicks today!’
CAYMAN LINE UP: Jonathan Jorge, Daniel McGrath (capt), Stephen Chin, Harrison Lester, James Geary, Brian Martins, Ed Westin, Garrett Conolly, Michael Wilson, Joel Clarke, Ron Royer, Robbie Cribb, Matthew Hale, Justin White, Guillaume Hammersley.