Male ruggers stumble at final RAN hurdle

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Jamaica’s Men went back-to-back at the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Championships in close to identical fashion when they defeated Guyana’s ‘Green Machine’ 22-17 in an electric final at the Holders Hill Polo Club in St. James, Barbados, on Sunday.

Guyana had played unbeaten in a quest to win their eight Caribbean Sevens title, but for the second time in two years, they lost the most important match. At the 2017 championships in Mexico City, the lost 24-28.

The Jamaicans were the first to score, but Jamal Angus collected a turnover and did a clever dummy to equalise. It continued to be tit-for-tat with Jamaica taking the lead from the try and conversion.

Avery Corbin, who all day played with brute force, drew it level (12-12) on the cusp of half-time for Guyana. Claudius Butts, who has been explosive throughout the day on the sides, rattled Jamaica early in the second half with a try. It was now 17-12, but they missed the conversion.

The see-saw kept swinging with defending champions equalising. Some tense moments arose in the dying moments, but the Jamaicans held their nerve upon some lose ball-play by the ‘Green Machine.’

Meanwhile, the female title was won by Mexico who defeated Trinidad and Tobago 15-10, while Guyana’s ladies finished seventh.

In the Men’s semi-final bout with the powerful Mexicans, Butts was off to a flyer and scored the first try. It was not long after Mexico equalised but the score remained 5-5 as both sides missed the conversion. Corbin, out of the left, powered through the defence to score just under the poll, which meant converting was quite easy and the halftime had the Guyanese leading 12-5.

A miss-tackle by Dwayne Schroder allowed Mexico to draw level since they completed their conversion with a minute remaining. Tensions were building but an offensive play inspired by Butts got them over line.

With nimble feet work and robust play, Butts scored the all-important try to end the match 17-12 and Guyana into the final against Jamaica, who defeated Bermuda 14-5. In their quarter-final tie, they got pass Dominican Republic 12-5.

On day one, Guyana dismantled Curacao 59-0 and wrapped up proceedings with 19-10 victory over the host.

For the Women, they had a mixed bag of results. They were firstly defeated by St Lucia 0-25, but rebounded to win 42-0 over the host; then drew 7-7 against Dominican Republic and lost 7-27 to Mexico.

It meant they finished fourth in their group and relegated to the Plate category, where they lost the semi-final to Bermuda 5-20. However, the five-time champions ended the tournament on a high note by walloping Bermuda 32-0 in the 7th-8th play-off.

The international competition allowed the top two Men’s and Women’s teams to qualify for the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, and the winners to the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens.

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