Panthers maul Cayman

American rugby players penetrated Fortress Cayman.

The USA South Panthers defeated the Cayman Islands national 15s team, 34-30, on Saturday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The victory knocks Cayman out of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association Championships while the United States, the reigning champions, will host the final against Guyana later this month. Locals have now been beaten by the Americans – who are newcomers to the competition – two straight years, with Cayman losing their 2013 match in Atlanta by two points.

Panthers captain Stephen Hickey of Augusta, Georgia spoke about the squad being lucky to win.

“At half time we wanted to keep the intensity up, swing it wide and use our advantage there,” Hickey said. “We were glad to win today, we pulled it out.”

The visitors would score a try roughly four minutes into the contest before Cayman’s first points came from young prodigy Morgan Hayward – via a penalty kick and try. The Americans would rattle off 12 unanswered points before Man of the Match Joel Clark scored a try to put the teams level at 17 points apiece at half time. The visitors got off to a fast start in the second half, with 16 straight points before Cayman’s Marco Du Plessis scored a try to put the score at 31-24.

The teams would trade penalty kicks, with Cayman adding another off the boot of Hayward to get to 30 points. In the final minutes of the game, the Americans would make a goal-line stand to deny the hosts the winning score.

The defeat marks Cayman first loss in four chances of hosting major international fixtures or ‘Big Games.’ Previous victories over Mexico, the Bahamas and Bermuda led Cayman Rugby Football Union President Derek Haines to dub Truman Bodden as Fortress Cayman.

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