A back and forth affair featuring four second half lead changes saw Cayman top Bermuda 20-19 Saturday (2 June) to advance in the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Regional Qualifier.
First half tries by Killian Everard and Jonny Gibson put Cayman firmly ahead 10-0 after 12 minutes of play. Bermuda however would storm back into the game courtesy of a spectacular Corey Boyce try, taking it the length of the field to the disdain of the home crowd at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. With the score 10-7 at the end of the first frame, Captain Chris Kennedy said a halftime regroup was necessary.
“We needed to calm down. We were getting really frantic. We knew what they were doing. The ref told us we were infringing, we needed to take a step back. We spoke about it at halftime, the first 20 minutes of the half we didn’t do it, so it was about going back to basics.”
In the second half, Bermuda were led by the foot of Brian Archibald, who made good on four consecutive scores to give Bermuda a 16-10 advantage. Bermuda’s Jahan Cedenio said the games was theirs for the taking.
“We knew Cayman would play a forwards dominating game, and we played a similar type of game. It was a very tough battle. We never lost our confidence, even when we went down we never lost our confidence.”
In the 18th minute, a heads up play by Dave Stringer on a penalty try gave Cayman a 17-16 lead. Moments later, a penalty converted by Bermuda’s Archibald in the 19th minute put the Bermudians ahead 19-17. A Morgan Hayward penalty minutes later would seal the victory 20-19. Kennedy said it was a game for the ages.
“We knew that was going to be tough. We said beforehand that they were going to come out, be physical, they had a point to prove, and that’s what we did. That was one of the most physical games we’ve had here in years.”
The win pits Cayman in a one-game playoff versus Guyana or Mexico in early 2019 at home for the right to compete in the Rugby Americas Challenge. Cayman will play developmental squad USA South in Atlanta, Georgia July 7th. The outcome is purely experiential for Cayman as the Americans are a feeder team to the larger Team USA.