Rugby League Jamaica wrapped up its 13-a-side high school championships on Monday, when both the U14 and U16 finals were played at Campion College. The games marked the first time since the Covid pandemic that the Championships have been played in full and saw over 200 student athletes participate. The Cedar Grove Academy placed teams in both finals, a remarkable achievement, seeing they had already won the U19 title last November. However, they were denied the sweep as opponents Calabar High (U14s), and Campion College (U16s) craved out narrow victories.
In the U14 finals, Calabar were chasing their own piece of history as they sought to become the first High school team to win 5 consecutive age grade Championships. They achieved this with a narrow and hard fought 18-14 score line. The match had several lead changes and was tied 14-14 at fulltime.
The contest was decided in overtime by Amare Anderson who scored a break away try on Calabar’s first set of six. Other scorers for the winners Jhaidan Williams with a try and finals MVP Tevez Tulloch with10 points from 2 tries and a goal. Meanwhile, for Cedar Grove, Laquan Burton, Christian Campbell and Shamar Cunningham each scored a try and Nathan Brown kicked a goal.
Calabar coach Derone Davis said, “We are extremely proud of our performance. Cedar Grove is a very good team and played a great match, they’d beaten us in the round robin stage and so we knew we had to dig deep in the finals. We held our composure well in the second half and overtime and it paid off, it means a lot to have one more Championship in this age grade.”
The U16 finals was also a hotly contested affair as both Campion and Cedar Grove chased their maiden U16 National title. Campion took an early first half lead through prop Ehinome Ehikhametalor, but Cedar Grove immediately hit back through Tajay Brown. The scores remained tied until late in the second half when Ehinome crashed over for his second and decisive try, his performance cementing him as the finals MVP.
Campion’s coach Andrew Dixon said, “The boys worked hard throughout the season, and it all came together for them. Our season was built on being able to defend well and this enabled us to overcome a very talented Cedar Grove outfit today. Overall, we are just happy to bring Campion its first U16 rugby league Championship, it means a lot to this team.”
Cedar Grove's coach Antonio Baker remained proud of his charges despite not adding any of the two trophy on offer, he commented, "My teams played well, both games were very close and unfortunately neither team could find the extra needed to carry them over the line in the dying moments. Congrats to both Calabar and Campion".
In the U16 3rd place playoff, BB Coke High defeated Spanish Town High 20-6. For the winners, Adriano Thompson scored 2 tries, Tyrone Davidson and Omari Stephenson scored one each and Richard Glennie added 2 goal kicks. For Spanish Town, Shaeim Josephs scored a try and Nathaniel McDonald a goal.