North edge out South

A truly bitter battle between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere rugby nations ended with a close one point win to the North and an overall draw in the Challenge Cup series meaning that the North retains the Challenge Cup for 2010.

The much fancied South arrived started unchanged having beaten their Northern counterparts by a convincing 10 points the previous Saturday whilst the North chose to field a new look, younger team.

With many young Caymanian players returning home from school and college for the holidays there would be a boost of speed to contain the Southern back line which had time and time again plagued the North in the second Test.

The North had the chance to open the scoring early on but a missed penalty kick was shortly followed by South African fly half Josh Brown who ran in under the posts virtually unscathed.

Brown followed up his try and conversion only moments later with a 30 yard penalty kick to extend the lead to 10-0 to the South.

The North, who were slowly getting into their stride were able to chip away at the South’s lead by kicking for points when given the opportunity and by half time the South were clinging to a one point lead having been unable to find the try line again after the opening exchanges.

The first half gave hints of where the game was heading having seen two penalties for high tackles and one for a dangerous tackle when Fijian Venassio Tokotokovanua escaped the sin bin for not using his arms when putting in a fierce tackle on his opposite number, Bryan Little of Canada.

The second half was marred with more penalties from the South and resulted in the eventual sending off for South African blind side flanker Shaun Gerrard for what was to be the last of four high tackles in the game but regardless of the infringements around the pitch the North kept plugging away and fighting for the lead.

The lead finally changed hands when Scotty Forrest, the north scrum half, who had come close to the line on numerous occasions, finally broke free to score under the posts for a converted try to take the score line to 16-10.

The South responded with Vanassio Tokotokovanua finding a gap in the North defence to take the South to within one point but the missed conversion was to prove to be the South’s undoing as the clock ticked down and tempers flared into scuffles forcing the referee to call time on the game with only 60 seconds remaining on the clock.

The North, happy with the 16-15 result were only let down in terms of points on the board with two missed penalty kicks a missed drop goal and a disallowed try which would have put the game well out of reach for the South.

The rugby continues at the South Sound Rugby pitch on Boxing Day with the annual Presidents vs. Captains select sides kicking off at 3pm. The Boxing Day game is an annual event which should prove to be a much more social game than the bitterly contested Challenge Cup.