A team representing the Cayman Islands attended the fourth International Touch Rugby Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida last week.
The Cayman Pirates comprised of 13 finely-honed athletes. Putting out a co-ed team and inspirationally captained by Sharlee Henshaw, the Pirates first played Fort Lauderdale B and recorded an honourable 3-3 tie. Riley Mullen was pivotal, running in three tries and laying down a marker for the rest of the tournament.
In the second game, the Pirates led D.C. by 1-0 at the break. Neil ‘Monty’ Montgomery was starting to pull the strings for Cayman. He scored the first and was instrumental in setting up tries for Sharlee Henshaw and Richard Gordon in the second half. However, D.C. demonstrated that they had plenty of mettle and increasingly built the pressure on the Pirates’ throughout the second half to eventually secure a 3-3 draw.
The Pirates’ third game was against tournament favourites Fort Lauderdale A which was justified as they won 3-0. Only some desperate defending by Joan Murphy and Marc Randall kept the score down and it showed that the Pirates’ needed to up their game. And they did.
In their final group game against Palm Beach, determined ball-carrying by Joanne Ziegler, Chandra Friesen and Michelle Bailey put Palm Beach on the back foot as Cayman controlled the game for large parts. Neil Montgomery was growing into his role as playmaker and pulled the Palm Beach defence in all directions.
Sharlee Henshaw scored both tries for the Pirates, one in each half, for a resounding 2-0 victory. Although there was no bonus points gained it was a thoroughly satisfying performance and the result put the Pirates into the third place play-off.
The best performance was saved for their final game. By a quirk of fate, they were pitched against Palm Beach again and it was clear that Palm Beach, wounded by their defeat in the final group game, were out to reverse that result.
But the Cayman Pirates were equal to the challenge. Richard Gordon, who had previously been frustrated by his inability to burst through a gap all day, threw the most outrageous of dummies and ran clear leaving the Palm Beach defence standing.
Dave Bailey, immense in defence, revelled in throwing himself around for last-ditch touches that both frustrated his opponents and inspired his team-mates. Imbued with this new confidence, the Pirates threw the ball around and Montgomery set up Mark Robson for the easiest of touchdowns to make it 2-0.
Gordon scored the third, when Montgomery threw a delightful back-of-the-hand pass. Mullen added the fourth before Steve Henshaw scored the try of the day. He ran half the length of the pitch to score by the corner flag, chased all the way by the speedy female winger from Palm Beach for a 5-1 victory.
Fort Lauderdale A went to beat D.C. in the final by 5-3. The tournament was a rousing success and all the teams are looking forward to next year when they can challenge each other once again.