The Cayman National Men’s XV squad dispelled any fears of a second poor showing against a younger, less experienced Princeton University squad came recently to Grand Cayman.
This time last year, Cayman welcomed Dartmouth College and only the Cayman Select sides – made up of players ineligible or not selected to make up the national squad – had any success against their Dartmouth counterparts as the series ended 2-2 with Dartmouth taking the bigger scalp of the Cayman National XV twice.
It was an experience Cayman players clearly learned from as Cayman won the Princeton series 3-1.
The opening game on 18 March between the Cayman National XV and Princeton was a bruising, ugly affair with Cayman racking up a massive penalty count but still managing to keep the Americans scoreless.
The game ended 32-0 and although Princeton started brightly up front in the forwards, some big hits from the Cayman back-line left the visitors a little gun-shy in attack.
The second fixture the following day between a Cayman Select side made up of Advance Fire and Plumbing Buccaneers and John Doak Architecture Iguanas (dubbed the “Iganeers” by local commentator Koro Vakauta) took on a Princeton B XV, which featured some honorary Princetonians like Vanassio Tokotokovanua, Edward Westin, Stuart Geddes and Shaun Gerrard. But regardless, the Iganeers played more controlled than their counterparts and marched out a 34-5 win with Princeton buoyed by their first score of the tour.
Cayman’s major highlight was a hat trick of tries from Justin Wight, home from college for the holidays.
The third Test on 21 March, again against the Princeton B XV, was the highlight of the series as a Queensgate Pigs Trotters and Century 21 Cayman Storm combined forces team (dubbed “The Porm”) took on a Princeton B XV featuring some Buccaneers who had earlier piled the points on the visitors through Addae Andrews and Stefan Prior.
The Porm were dominant in the early exchanges and led 22-0 at halftime before the Princetonians and their honorary Caymanians responded with 24 points, 15 of which were from Prior and Andrews.
The winning score coming from a strong run from Prior with the last play of the game to leave the Porm shell shocked.
The final test saw a resurgent Princeton side, clearly more acclimatised and gelled after a week’s worth of training in South Sound, taking on a Cayman National XV intent on playing a cleaner, more controlled game.
It was only a concerted second-half effort which saw Cayman score thanks to Fijian lock Severi Tabuaniwera to end the match 10-5 and seal a series 3-1 win over the visitors.