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Guyana ruggers inflict more agony on Trinis
When Christopher Singh stuttered and stumbled over the tryline in the fading moments of the game, Guyana national ruggers better known as the “Green Machine” had inflicted another dose of agony on nemesis T&T, who they defeated 15-8 to be crowned Southern Zone champions in the NACRA Men’s 15’s Championship on Saturday, at the National Park, Guyana.
Playing before an energetic and patriotic crowd, the Guyanese rebounded from being down 3-8 in the second period to romp to an exciting 15-8 triumph and earn one year of bragging rights and a meeting with either the USA or Cayman Islands.
Displaying the heart of lions, the Guyanese opened the scoring in the 32nd minute of play when Captain Ryan Gonsalves converted a penalty that was awarded to them following an infringement.
They held the slim advantage until half time.
The beginning of the second period saw both teams on the offensive with Guyana coming close to scoring after finding themselves deep in the visitors’ half, but stubborn defending erased their chances.
Bouyed by the stop, the Trinidadians produced a fierce offensive foray of their own, but just as they had done, the Guyanese backline held firm. However, the Trinis were relentless in their search for points and forced an error from the Guyanese which resulted in an automatic penalty which was scored by Don Rojas in the 51st minute.
The defending champions then silenced the vociferous band of supporters on the sideline through Darrel Scott whose burst of speed off a kick downfield could not be matched by any of the Guyanese defenders and he ended over the tryline in the 61st minute as the Trinis took the lead 8-3. The ensuing conversion was missed.
Urged on by the partisan crowd, the Guyanese led by former captain Theodore Henry, the inspirational Richard Staglon and Ronald Mayers, all vastly experienced players at this level, turned the screws tight on the Trinidadians in a vicious onslaught as the clocked ticked away.
The answer would come from US-based second row Vallon Adams, who burst through the middle of the pack, before securing five valuable points for his team to draw the scoreline level in the 69th minute. Gonsalves converted to give the locals the lead 10-8.
With the crowd shouting all sorts of advice, the Guyanese ruggers dug deep, ensuring that controlling possession of the ball was critical, while executing some crucial defensive stops.
Guyana won possession deep inside the Trinis half and Singh, who had come on as a substitute and known for his exceptional passing ability produced the play of the game.
Collecting the ball deep in enemy territory, Singh faked a pass that the defence responded to and even though he lost his footing somewhat he still managed to keep his focus and lurch over the tryline to effectively end T&T’s chances of staging a recovery.
T&T-based Staglon speaking with this newspaper after the game said the win was great for local rugby, adding that he felt the opposing teams probably underestimated them, especially after Guyana was debarred from the regional Sevens Competition last year.
Staglon added that the win was very important for the sustenance of the sport which according to him hit a brick wall to a small extent after the disappointment of missing last year’s regional event.
“Right now the team is getting harder and harder to pick, players cannot just believe that they can walk into the team automatically, players are fighting for positions and this to my mind augurs well for the future of the sport.”
He likened the win as a great day for rugby in Guyana, adding that guys are improving so automatically the team is improving and Guyana’s rugby is back in the eyes of the world.
“Our depth is increasing and we are showing other countries how strong we are and how competitive we can be,” Staglon opined.