The Cayman Islands rugby team had plenty to celebrate over the weekend. And judging by the partying afterward, there are still a few hangover heads now.
The weather cleared on Saturday to allow the Cayman Rugby Football Union to put on a great show for nearly 2,000 spectators at Cayman Big Game 3 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town.
With action starting at noon thanks to exhibition matches from the Cayman U10s, U12s and U14s, the title fight between the top-ranked Caribbean side Bermuda – 2011 and 2012 NACRA Caribbean Champions – against Cayman kicked off at 4pm in front of a packed house.
Cayman opened the scoring through full back and LIME’s Man of the Match Chris Bunce when good phase play resulted in an easy overlap for Bunce to jog in the opening 5 points, which were duly converted by Morgan Hayward to take the score to 7-0.
Bermuda then missed a reasonably easy penalty through Antonio Perincheif, a mistake which Cayman scrum half Robbie Cribb did not copy with two long-range kicks.
A change in kicking personnel for Bermuda saw them notch up nine points for infringements at the breakdown, but they were Bermuda’s only reprieve in the first half as the Cayman’s defence held out against the Bermudan pack and speedy wingers.
While both Cayman and Bermuda had lost to USA Rugby South in this year’s championships, Cayman were set on ensuring that mistakes made previously, which resulted in a two-point loss, would not be repeated this time.
Cayman continued to make inroads through sniping runs from winger Joel Clark and No. 8 Phil Fourie.
A change of front row personnel brought fresh legs onto the park as Cayman looked to a drive over scrum from 5 metres out and while the first attempt led to the ball being held up over the try line by Bermuda the second attempt led to a penalty try for Cayman as Bermuda collapsed the scrum against a dominant Cayman pack.
With Morgan Hayward converting the penalty, Cayman had breathing room as the scoreboard moved to 20-9.
While many expected the game to wind down from that point, Bermuda came back strongly and scrum half Tom Healy crossed the line for Bermuda’s only try, the conversion missed and the celebrations started as the clock wound down.
The win for Cayman over Bermuda saw a climb of four places in the IRB world rankings, up to 61, while Bermuda fell six places to 54. Bermuda’s second straight loss in this year’s championships sees them relegated to the qualifying rounds of the Northern Caribbean division for 2014 to face off against Jamaica, Bahamas and Mexico.