With a light sprinkling of rain and overcast conditions in South Sound, local rugby fans and players alike could not have asked for better rugby playing weather for the opening round of the Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy competition, sponsored by DART.
The opening game, played at 2pm, normally sees both teams slog it out under stifling sunshine while the later 4pm game, still being played in the Caribbean heat often benefits from a quickly setting sun.
The Century 21 Cayman Storm, looking to defend their 2012 league trophy victory took on the Queensgate Pigs Trotters in the early fixture.
The Trotters, who have not held the Alex Alexander Trophy since 2003 – and have also been unable to secure any other Caribbean Rugby Football Union silverware since 2007 – have been seen as the local journeyman team in recent years.
The Trotters, now coming of age, have welcomed the addition of new talent in the form of Neil Montgomery at scrum half, Alistair Lum at No. 8 and David Acut at 15, and are now undoubtedly a real force on the pitch.
The Cayman Storm on the other hand have always been known for a dangerous attacking backline spearheaded by scrum half Simon Crompton, Vanassio Tokotokovanua in the centres and Keswick Wright at fullback.
But the absence of Tokotokovanua with injuries to both wrists and Wright, having opted for early retirement from XVs rugby, mixed with the notable absences of Camilo Ramirez, put added pressure on returning Storm fly half Josh Brown to rally his backline.
Neither team was in the ascendancy in the early exchanges and half-time ended at 15-15. Although there were chances for Marco du Plessis to draw first blood for the Pigs Trotters with kickable penalties his boot could not find its target as six points went begging.
It was Claudio Sarfati who drew first blood and scored early on for the Storm, but this was shortly followed by a converted Eoghan Ryan try to take the score to 5-7.
A penalty try to the Storm from a trip on Simon Crompton at the back of a Pigs Trotters scrum allowed the Storm to momentarily regain the lead before Crompton fed the ball to Kieran Lyons when a chip and chase attempt by the Storm scrum half was easily picked off by Lyons, who ran 50 yards up the field to score and make the scores 12-12. Brown and du Plessis exchanged further penalties to end out the half.
While the Pigs Trotters started to open the scoring in the second half the performance was anything but polished as the men in red are still looking to find their feet.
Converted tries from James Waters and Alistair Lum, plus two further penalties secured by du Plessis, brought up the final 35 points for the Pigs Trotters, while a solitary Josh Brown penalty in the second half were the only points the Storm could amass after the break.
In the later game, the Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers hosted the John Doak Architecture Iguanas.
The Buccaneers, fielding a makeshift side without Paul Murphy, Michael Peck, Mariano Marco and Stephan Prior – who were instrumental in the Buccaneers Heineken Charity Shield win over the Century 21 Cayman Storm – due to a mixture of injury, or off-island absences, struggled to contain an attacking Iguana backline under the tutelage of new Iguana coach Tim Rossiter.
The Iguanas tallied up a 25-point cushion through tries from Angel Hawkins, Yohann Regnard, Walter Myers and Andrew MacKay plus a further conversion and penalty kick from fly half Shaun Hardcastle before Buccaneer loose forward Shaun Gerrard secured 5 points for his team in the closing exchanges of the game.
The Iguanas, thanks to a better point difference, march to the top of the league standings with the Pigs Trotters in hot pursuit. The standings show a marked difference from the previous season with 2012 third and fourth placed teams sitting in first and second. But with the Iguanas to host the Storm at 2pm this weekend, followed by the Buccaneers hosting the Pigs Trotters, it will be anyone’s guess to see how the teams will react after week one.
Matches are televised online on www.caymanrugbytv.com. Games also can be watched free of charge at the Cayman Rugby Football Club in South Sound.