Iron Duke melt

Bajan rugby boys beat visiting navy team

International rugby recently returned to the Garrison Savannah when a team from the visiting Royal Navy ship HMS Iron Duke faced off against a Barbados Select XV team and were defeated 44-5 by their hosts.

Billed as an international friendly, the game started off as anything but that, as the visiting sailors had to contend with unaccustomed heat and lack of practice.

Action during the match-up between a Barbados select team and members of the HMS Iron Duke.
Action during the match-up between a Barbados select team and members of the HMS Iron Duke.

Barbados opened hostilities immediately upon the visitors’ kickoff, using superior pack weight and speed to open an early 5-0 gap. Iron Duke fullback Gary Russell’s gallant efforts at defence were in vain as local number 10 Kevin Carter planted the ball firmly between the uprights.

The Bajan speed and agility fooled the opposition into leaving the blind side open at the ruck, leading to a footrace between Iron Duke’s Iron Duke’sGary Russell and speedy Carter, resulting in another five points to the men in blue and gold. Undaunted,  Shaun Cotton kicked off, leading to series of rucks and a forced turnover. The visiting forwards pressed forward with determination and eventually their number 8 John Brindley was able to score the first points for the sailors.

Encouraged by this success, Iron Duke’s Daniel Stephenson threatened to even the score with a nice sidestep to get his team inside the 22m line, but a turnover resulted in an easy try for Bajan speedster Kevin “Flakes” Cobham. Barbados’ number 22 Rommel “Angry Bird” Moore celebrated his return to rugby after a prolonged absence with a try that showed no loss of skill. The half-time score was Barbados 20, HMS Iron Duke 5.

The lengthening shadows at the restart meant a slight decrease in temperature, no doubt welcomed by the visiting seamen, who brought fresh energy to the attack in the second half. But it was to no avail as Bajan number 19 Stephen Millar used his considerable size to power through the opposition to add another five points to the score. First-half menace Carter contributed to the score with a conversion that brought the score to 27-5 to the hosts.

A decision by referee George Nicholson saw what would have been the second try for the Iron Dukes called back, as the ball was deemed to have been knocked on prior to the scoring phase. While unhappy with this call, the visitors nevertheless kept pressing and attacking, undeterred by the large deficit in the score.

Barbados were equally determined and maintained pressure, assisted by the fresh bodies off the bench, an asset denied to the smaller visiting squad. In the spirit of fair play and good grassroots rugby, the local union cordially loaned the visitors a couple of players. There were three additional tries for Barbados plus another two points compliments the boot of Carter. Local players “Fat Kyle” Smith and Simon Noble while on loan to the visitors made life challenging for Barbados, attacking their usual team-mates with an almost frightening enthusiasm. To their credit, the visitors defended most ably for the last ten minutes and denied the locals any further points.

The official Barbados Rugby Football Union’s league season commences on January 10, at the Garrison Savannah.

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