In front of a vociferous crowd of about 350 in the middle of the Historic Garrison Savannah, the young “Lions” of the Barbados Rugby Team, annihilated Curaçao 41-3 yesterday evening to progress into Round 3 of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association’s (NACRA) Caribbean Championships.
Physically smaller than their opponents and at an average age of 22, Barbados started the contest somewhat nervously in the hot but windy conditions.
A missed penalty was the only chance in the first 20 minutes for either side to put points on the board. Then Barbados, from a solid drive from the forwards, moved into the heart of the Curaçao half and linked with the speedy backs to spin the ball wide. A dummy run from Nicholas Jackman distracting the Curaçao defence gave Sean Ward the opportunity to hand off his tackler and round two more defenders and score Barbados first points.
This score was soon followed by a try from Nico Blunt, created by an injection of pace and the interjection of fullback Rondel “Rapta” Cumberbatch into the line to create the overlap on 26 minutes.
The first half closed with some Barbados mishandling resulting in a scrum and attack pressure from Curaçao forwards threatening to score on Barbados’ goal line. A strong counter-ruck from Barbados’ forwards and turn-over by Christian Preece won the ball back on the goal line. The ball was swiftly passed through the backs, who ran the full length of the field and were only denied a score by Curaçao killing the ball on their goal line. The effort was rewarded, however, from the resulting penalty when Neil Forde crashed through the Curaçao defence and scored a try to close out the first half three scores ahead 15 – 0.
The second-half got underway with Curaçao, with the slight wind advantage, pinning Barbados in their own half with intelligent kicking. It wasn’t until the 56th minute that Barbados threatened again, with Nicholas Jackman bursting through the Curaçao back line and receiving good support from the forward resulting in a drive to the line and touch down by Dwight Forde.
With credit to Curaçaoand their never-give-up attitude, they threatened the Barbados line twice more in the half, but the Barbados’ fitness and conditioning told and with ferocious tackling, they were repelled from crossing the line and received a solitary penalty goal for all their efforts.
Further converted tries from Man-of-the-Match Christian Preece, as well as Philip Lucas and Kevin “Shakira” Carter, rounded off a very satisfying and convincing afternoon’s rugby for Barbados.
On the final whistle and after the opposition handshakes, the team lined up and crossed the field to great applause and appreciation from the large supporting crowd.
After the match Coach Stuart Copeland commented that he was delighted with the win and gave credit to the 33 players in the squad and 22 players on the day for making great efforts to get fit and conditioned and playing with courage, heart and discipline to see off good opposition.
Barbados can now look forward in May to hosting Trinidad and Tobago, and then travelling to Guyana to play for the title of Southern Caribbean Champions.