It was a fourth trophy in a row for the John Doak Architecture & Tradeview Markets Iguanas, as they continued their domination of rugby in the Cayman Islands.
The start of a new season always has the feeling of blowing off cobwebs, but the wasted no time getting their touch back with a 31-15 win over the Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers.
With the Cayman Rugby Football Union pitch looking verdant, both teams took to the field knowing that while the big awards are not won on Day 1 of the season, it is certainly an indicator who will be favorites to clean out the trophy cabinet come April/May next year.
The Iguanas started brightly enough, although points were hard to come by until Captain, fly half and last season’s CRFU Player of the Year Craig Saunders slotted a penalty to give the Iguanas the lead. This was soon followed by a Grabe van Huyssteen try from an excellent bursting run to give the Iguanas some breathing room.
Buccaneers showed their tenacity and fought hard for territory and possession with Mike Luxton leading by example. He rampaged down the right wing only to be stopped, just short of the line, in what was a first half of few opportunities for the Bucs – their only return being a penalty slotted by Lee Jones.
The Iguana heavyweights started putting in some beef with good runs from forwards Jon Stott and Jesse Childs, before flanker James Macfee stretched the lead with a fortuitous try after a mix-up at a 5m line up. The team huddle led by Christof du Toit clearly confused not only his teammates but the Buccaneers defence too, allowing Macfee to fall on the loose ball to score the easiest of tries.
The Bucs rallied briefly in the second half and tried to enact an Iguana culling of their own. After several drives for the line, it was Dow Travers who picked up from the base of a ruck to dive under the tackles to touch down out wide. It was an opportunistic effort that gave the Bucs a flicker of hope and chance of a recovery.
That hope was soon extinguished as the Iguanas’ stranglehold became increasingly evident. Time and again players such as du Toit, Walter Myers and Craig Saunders came close to scoring, but were either held back by stoical defence or by frustratingly dropping the ball in the act of scoring.
The Bucs final gasp was snuffed out by Peter De Vere who took a quick tap penalty over the line, knocking defenders over like ten pins.
At 24-8 the game was effectively over, but the Bucs kept fighting to the end and Mike Luxton won a penalty try taking a short pass from a penalty to catch a napping Iguana defense. The resultant high tackle which stopped him scoring was enough for Referee Justin Colgan to award the 7-pointer.
In the dying embers of the game, du Toit finally got the reward his efforts deserved. From the base of a 10m scrum he cleverly exploited the blind side and dropped over the whitewash, securing the first Man of the Match Ice Cube award of the season.
For their efforts, the Iguanas won the Heineken Charity Shield, taking away their first trophy of the season and their fourth in succession.
In the earlier Heineken Charity Spoon match Queensgate Pigs Trotters beat Fidelity Cayman Storm.