For the second consecutive year, The Bahamas’ national rugby team placed second in the Plate division of the North America and West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA) Sevens Tournament, this time at the Winton Rugby Pitch on Sunday.
Bermuda beat The Bahamas 19-14 in the final, which culminated in a five-minute sudden death overtime session, and as the scores indicated, the match was intense throughout.
Bermuda’s Darragh O’Donoghue made the first try around the second minute of the match. O’Donoghue’s teammate Chris Naylor’s kick was good for the two point conversion, giving them a 7-0 lead over The Bahamas.
In the second half, The Bahamas stole possession from Bermuda. Kevin Salabie made a break and fed the ball to Jeremico Cooper who made the try (7-5). Salabie returned to get the two-point conversion to tie the match at seven apiece. On the next play, good passing by Bermuda led to another try and conversion putting them up, 14-7. With less than a minute left in the game, one of The Bahamas’ top players, Jamaal Curry, made an assist to a speeding Andy Bodie who in return broke away from the Bermudans to score a try. Salabie made another good kick to tie the match at 14 apiece, forcing sudden death overtime.However, in the five-minute sudden death overtime, Bermuda went wide, found an opening and made the game-ending try.
The Bahamas slaughtered Barbados 34-5 in the semifinal as Dan Woodside led the team with two tries. Also Duran Beadle, Cooper, Curry and Bodie all made one try apiece while Salabie made the conversions. Barbados beat St. Vincent for third place in the Plate division.
After the final, Bahamas’ Head Coach Stephen Thompson said Team Bahamas has a bright future.
“The guys played very well. Bermuda was trying to slow the game down because they could not keep up with our speed. At the same time we also struggled with their size. The end result showed that strategies were well matched because at the end of regulation we had to go into overtime. It was a good game and hats off to Bermuda. With the loss we basically ended up in the same spot that we finished in a year ago (loss to Martinique in the Plate finals last year).
There was no improvement as far as the NAWIRA standings are concerned,” he said.
“Nonetheless, we have a lot of young men on our squad with the median age of the team being 21. There is a lot of experience to be gained. Furthermore, the team seemed to improve with every game at this tournament, ” Thompson further explained.
Woodside, who made two of the six tries in the semis to lead The Bahamas to the final, added: “We came into these last couple of matches pretty confident because we know that we have one of the better teams out here. Overall, I am happy with the guys’ play.”
Meanwhile, Bermuda’s Head Coach Lawrence Bird noted after the Plate final:
“My guys played very well today. However, on the first day of competition we did not play up to par which left me very disappointed. Nonetheless, the guys came back today and played proper sevens.”
Bird also touched on the turning point for Bermuda in the Plate final.
“In the sudden death overtime we managed to out-scrimmage The Bahamas. On the final play we scrummed them off the ball, gained possession, took it wide, went one way, pulled it back the other way and set our flyer free. It was all about possession in those last few seconds of the game,” he explained.
Regarding the women’s round-robin, Jamaica beat Guyana 12-0 to defend their Caribbean crown while Canada won over the United States for the North America crown.
President of the Bahamas Rugby and Football Union, Chris Lleida, said overall the tournament ran smoothly. “There were 60 games played over two days so a lot of work had to be done to the fields. We were able to upgrade the second field with help from Cable Bahamas, Bahamas Hot Mix and a lot of assistance from Steven Johnson. Unfortunately though this tournament is being held the same time as Jollification, so I think that, that event might have taken some of our fans,” explained Lleida.