10th July 2019, 08:34 | north_west_mens
A nail-biting conclusion to the rugby league 9s tournament held at UWI Mona Bowl saw Jamaica A and the North West English Lionhearts share the spoils, setting things up nicely for when the two sides meet again in a Test Match on Saturday 13th July.
The four team tournament saw the Lionhearts and Jamaica A joined by the two Parish of Residence sides, St Catherine’s Blues and Kingston and St Andrews Reds with the Blues beating the Reds in a mini-Jamaican equivalent of State of Origin to decide third and fourth place in the competition.
After a start delayed due to the 30+ mph winds making it near impossible to put the posts up the competition was started with agreement to remove the requirement to kick drop goals after tries were scored.
First to the field were the Lionhearts who grounded 6 times against Kingston Reds for a 24-0 win with tries from Jack McHugh (3), Darryl King, Adam Robinson and Greg Walker. After Jamaica A had defeated St Catherine’s Blues by 28-8 the Lionhearts returned to the field after a short break and chalked up another 24-0 win against the Blues thanks to scores by Darryl King, Jack Sproat, Adam Rosser, Deane Meadows and Jack McHugh (2).
Jamaica A then beat the Reds 20-8 and the Blues defeated the Reds by 20-12 before we got set for the final game of the day between the Lionhearts and Jamaica A.
With the Reds and Blues having previously threatened the Lionhearts defence only to have made mistakes, Jamaica A quickly showed themselves to be more clinical. In just 30 seconds they had scored the first try the Lionhearts had conceded on tour since Canada 2016 when Adrian Thomas was put through in space wide on the left.
Immediately the home crowd sparked into life, banging the stands and helping to lift the tension as they looked to see how the Lionhearts would respond. Jordan Penny knocked on when the English attacked down the right, but the tourists defence held strong and a good kick return from McHugh allowed him to put Owain Abel free to level the scores.
The Reggae Warriors weren’t at all disheartened though, scoring again from the restart as the ball was worked out wide once again to Thomas who broke attempted tackles from Jack Sproat and Nathan Sneesby to send the hosts into half time with a narrow lead.
The second half started with the Lionhearts in possession and they showed good composure in attack to work the ball down the left flank before moving it right along the line until Adam Rosser found space to get over the line and tie the game.
What followed was a very tight patch of play with incredible effort from both sides as the Jamaicans were awarded a number of consecutive penalties and slowly made their way up the field, probing for weaknesses in the English line. After 7 minutes of the Lionhearts in defence - practically a lifetime in 9s - Mohenjo Thompson managed to crash over the line on the left to give Jamaica A the lead with 90 seconds remaining on the clock.
The pressure was on for the England time to dig themselves out of a hole and quickly, and the urgency was clear as they rushed to half way to kick the game back off and a strong drive from Meadows got the tourists deep in the Jamaica half. A short stoppage after a Greg Wilde hit the ground after being hit as he passed the ball helped both sides regain their shape but England didn’t lose their momentum as Penny and Meadows took them close to the line and gave Matt Hewlett opportunity to dodge a couple of tackles to get over from dummy half and bring the game to a close with nothing between the two sides.
Lionhearts Head Coach Sean McHugh said, “It was a good experience for our lads, some of whom hadn’t played 9s before and we’re learning the little differences as they went along. It was a fun event our hosts put on and the crowd were once again really loud and enjoying the great sport of rugby league.”
The Lionhearts return to action at the UWI Mona Bowl on Wednesday 10th July at 5pm (11pm UK time) when the Jamaican Parish of Residence champion Kingston and St Andrews Reds are their opposition.
North West English Lionhearts: Jack McHugh, Jordan Penny, Greg Wilde, Jack Sproat, Deane Meadows, Darryl King, Phil Woolacott, Phil Mitchell, Adam Robinson, Owain Abel, Greg Walker, Nathan Sneesby, Ste McDermott, Adam Rosser, Rick Ackers, Matt Hewlett
Jamaica A: Chevaugn Bailey, Lawrence Drummond, Chawn Henry, Roland Gray, Demone McDougal, Jerome Laird, Antonio Baker, Daniel Morrison, Orlando Messado, Shaquiel Pollack, Linval Green, Anthony Findlay, Adrian Tomas, Nickolai Kennedy, Neville Lynch, Romeo Monteith
Kingston and St Andrew’s Reds: Demetrius Campbell, Jade Harrison, Curtis Wilmot, Kevin Thomas, Kile Nembhard, Romario Bartley, Sheldon Kelly, Daniel Graham, Daniel Barnett, Akeem Murray, Michael Pearson, Brian Ray Moore, Tevin Dixon, Martin Flajollet
St Catherine’s Blues: Nicholi Christy, Rajiv Haughton, Omar Jones, Julius Reid, Shamar Cueary, Ajani Manning, Shaneal Brown, Dario Dowie, Chevaughn Carter, Roy Calvert
North West English Lionhearts 24-0 Kingston and St Andrews Reds
Jamaica A 28-8 St Catherine’s Blues
North West English Lionhearts 24-0 St Catherine’s Blues
Jamaica A 20-8 Kingston and St Andrews Reds
Kingston and St Andrews Reds 12-20 St Catherine’s Blues
Jamaica A 12-12 North West English Lionhearts