The Cayman women’s rugby sevens squad hosted a tournament recently at the South Sound Rugby Club against the Dallas Harlequins.
Dallas brought many experienced players on their first tour to Grand Cayman.
Cayman had been training hard in preparation for the Dallas visit, as well as the upcoming October domestic rugby sevens league and the NACRA Championships here on Nov. 9-10.
Cayman fielded two teams with a mix of veteran and new players. Any concerns about preparations were dispensed in the first two minutes of the first game, when Cayman successfully secured possession from a kick off and spun the ball through all sets of hands for Jodie McTaggart to score the opening try with a 30 meter break down the wing.
The tourists were under the cosh when Jo Ziegler then made a break for the line from the next phase of play, to put Cayman two tries ahead in the first four minutes.
Dallas never relented, however, and came back with a determined rolling maul that marched half way down the pitch to give an opening for their center to crash over the line.
The crowd were then treated to some excellent forward work with smashing runs from 15-year-old Liz Westin and Cherie Langston.
Just before the half, the ball was fed to Cayman’s new arrival from Sweden, Becky Sundell, who fended and spun her way through the Dallas defense to score.
With Dallas wilting in the heat, Cayman lent a couple of players to their team for a boost.
The second half was a much more balanced affair with Dallas applying more pressure, but with some wayward tackles.
Katie Bayles and Lucy Kirke showed some brilliant passing and consistent attacking pressure to wear the visitors down, and Sundell once again found a gap and sprinted through to secure the win by four tries to one.
In the game against Cayman’s second squad, Dallas was adjusting to the conditions and tried to bring the game around to their style of play.
Cayman was having none of it though, and through some deft work at the rucks Bianca Johnson ducked and darted through for Cayman’s first try.
Then Johnson used her pace to outstrip the Dallas defenders. On the re-start, Lisa Kehoe, at her best around the fringes, managed to wriggle around the Dallas forward pack and dot down behind the line.
With a three-try buffer, Cayman could have taken a break, but instead they led from the front with Bernie Beckles and Sara Dixon putting in some bone crunching hits.
With the crowd chanting, Nicole Montaque carried the ball on a barnstorming run down the sideline and it took three defenders to take her down.
Dallas was again in need of a boost at halftime and Sundell swapped jerseys to give them a hand.
The new blood seemed to give Dallas some sway. Sundell with a Dallas teammate carved through the Cayman defense to put the teams closer at 3 tries to 2. But with the introduction of Annie Rankin, those gaps shut down and through the hard toil in the backs of Lisa Kehoe, Stacey Ottenbriet and Jenna Richards, Cayman made its way back into Dallas territory to score a couple of late tries and seal the game 5 tries to 2.
The final game was a combination of the exciting first two. Dallas wanted to finish its tour positively and Cayman was hell bent on protecting their line.
The teams were again re-balanced with some judicious transfers out of the Cayman squads onto the Dallas team to even out the talent.
Try scorers from the first two games came to the fore with Johnson, Sundell, Rankin and Ziegler all showing dazzling speed and powering their way over the line.
Dallas managed to poach some of Cayman’s ball at the breakdown and scooted through the line to produce two tries of their own. However, the final whistle saw Cayman come out triumphant again with the score at 5 tries to 2.
On behalf of Global Captive Management, the Cayman Women’s rugby team sponsor, the Cayman Women’s coaches Martin Livingston and James Buckley presented the Dallas team with a plaque and T-shirts.
Despite the scores, Dallas was thrilled with the opportunity to play here and has invited Cayman back for a return tour.
Cayman now focuses on training for the October sevens series and the NACRA Championships in November, when they will host teams from the U.S., Canada, Trinidad, Jamaica and other Caribbean nations.