Kids make impressive start

The Cayman Islands Under-19 rugby side got off to a great start in the Caribbean Championships, beating reigning champs Jamaica 26-17 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Saturday.  

A penalty from fly half Morgan Hayward opened the scoring for Cayman. Barbados quickly responded with a try from scrum half Nico Blunt, converted by centre Nick Jackman 

A powerful run down the touchline saw Mario Holder go over for a try for the visitors. Jackman converted to take Barbados into a 14-3 lead, against the run of play. 

A penalty by Hayward narrowed the scores to 14-6 to Barbados and another two Hayward penalty closed the gap to within two points.  

A Jackman penalty took Barbaos into a 17-12 lead with a penalty before Cayman stormed back to make it 19-17 courtesy of a try in the corner from Tom Mann and a Hayward conversion.  

A charged down clearance allows Cayman flanker Alex Pineau to score and Hayward to convert for Cayman won the match handsomely. In the earlier match Mexico crushed Jamaica 36-0. 

The women’s Caribbean Championships are also being held and Cayman’s side faced Jamaica on Sunday.  

A penalty from Jamaican centre Kadjan Gayle gave them an early lead and a Wendy Parchment try late in the first half extended the lead to 8-0. Gayle converted to take the score to Jamaica 10-0. Then a Gayle try at the end of the first half took Jamaica into the interval 15-0 ahead. 

Cayman came back in the game with a try from scrum half Jo Ziegler, converted by Katie Bayles. A try by Cayman in the dying seconds by Lolita Hanna closed the gap to within three points as Jamaica came out winners 15-12 in a tightly contested match. 

In the earlier match, Trinidad and Tobago used the opportunity to smash the Caribbean Selects 92-0. 

Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams, technical director of Cayman Islands rugby, said: “I was pleased with the manner in which the Under-19s did not panic despite being 14 points down in the first half.  

“The side showed maturity beyond their young years to simply grind out the game and walk away with a well earned victory. The mass of this squad still have two years to play at this age category so we are still very young for the competition and once again we are giving away a considerable size difference.  

“Watching the game however you would never have known it as the Cayman lads really stepped up to meet what I can only describe as the best Bajan performance at this level I have seen in recent years. 

“It was a heartbreaker for the women who have worked so hard for this championships to lose their opener at home in front of a big crowd. They simply left themselves too much work to do to recover the 15-0 half-time lead that Jamaica had built.  

“The girls gave it their everything in the second half and came so close but ran out of time. The improvement of the side was apparent however as the Jamaicans rarely left their half in the second half.  

“It’s not all over for Cayman yet but their chances now rely on a Trinidad and Tobago win against Jamaica and then Cayman have to beat Trinidad and Tobago on Friday.  

“The Trinidadians are the third most successful women’s team in the world with nine wins from 11 matches. Only England and New Zealand have better records.” 

The Cayman women play the Caribbean Selects on Tuesday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, at 8pm. The earlier game is Jamaica v Trinidad and Tobago at 6pm.  

On Wednesday the U-19 men’s team play Bermuda at 8pm after Mexico have taken on the Trinidadians at 6pm. 

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Alex Pineau scored after a great run. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD