May 19, 2013 Sports
By Rawle Welch
Looking anything but champions in a less than inspiring first half display, defending Southern Caribbean title holders Guyana produced a dramatic second half rally to beat Barbados 19-17 in their NACRA Senior Men’s Championship yesterday, at the National Stadium.
The Guyanese ruggers were led to victory through two tries from Guyana Defence Force player Avery Corbin and one from the experienced Claudius Butts, while Captain Ryan Gonsalves
converted twice from three attempts.
Shaun English went over the tryline twice for the Bajans, while Christian Preece did it once and Dwight Forde made a solitary conversion.
Playing before a disappointing low turnout of fans, the Guyanese ruggers made a plethora of uncharacteristic mistakes in the opening period as even the experienced players such as Ronald Mayers, Butts and Gonsalves struggled to keep possession of the ball, thereby creating many turnovers.
The game started out with the Bajans pressing forward very early and a long kick allowed them possession deep within Guyana’s territory, before a strong surge for the locals backline ended with a try.
The conversion was missed.
The visitors muffed an opportunity to stretch their lead when awarded a penalty which was missed as well much to the elation of the partisan fans.
However, even after that slight reprieve the Guyanese ruggers continued to look lacklustre going forward and paid the price when Barbados’ Preece evaded two tackles, before finishing over Guyana’s tryline for a 10-0 advantage.
Once again, the conversion failed to land between the uprights.
Guyana’s Cloyd Prowell had the best opportunity to reduce the deficit, but he fumbled the ball inches short from going over the Bajans tryline much to the consternation of the local fans.
Bouyed by their good luck, the Barbadians made good of the escape and increased their lead just before the break when English netted his second try, before the conversion was made by Forde as they went to the half with a decisive 17-0 advantage.
Needing a more inspired performance in the second period, the Guyanese came out of the break looking to be more aggressive and it was that insistent style of play that saw a determined effort from Butts, who broke a series of tackles to finish over the tryline and give Guyana its first set of points.
Gonsalves lined up the conversion which sailed wide of the uprights as Guyana trailed 5-17.
However, undaunted by the slight setback, the fitter looking Guyanese were suddenly in attacking mode and appearing every bit the regional powerhouse as they attacked the Bajan backline with ferocious intent and got the desired result when Corbin burst down the right flank, avoided a couple of players, before ending unimpeded over the tryline. This time Gonsalves’ conversion was good as the Guyanese drew within 5, down 12-17.
The Bajans by this time looked a tired bunch and it was clear that if Guyana kept possession of the ball it would only be a matter of time before they scored again and who else was to ensure that.
Corbin, who many felt was playing his best ever game for Guyana, gave them that chance as he collected a pass, tore down the left flank this time and beat the scrambling Barbados defence in a nerve tingling foot race to finish for 5 points. Gonsalves nailed the conversion for a 19-17 Guyana lead, the first time they had led in the match.
With time running out, the Bajans placed themselves in a solid position to make a final push, but a dogged defensive stand by the Guyana team was successful until the final whistle sounded handing them a hard fought win.
They now move on to play Trinidad and Tobago on June 1.
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