Date and venue: Monday Nov. 25, @ The Cedar Grove Academy
Underdogs Campion College claimed their first National U19 High School rugby league title with a nail biting 22-20 win over competition favourites Old Harbour High on Monday. Old Harbour had previously defeated Campion in the group stages (22-14) and their high power offence was expected to once more dominate their rivals in the finals.
Living up to expectations, Old Harbour raced to a quick 14-0 lead after only 15 minutes. Their initial assault was led by Rodaine Walters, Ronaldino Lagore and Mikail Achong with brilliant individual tries, Walters and Johnnie Russell kicked a goal each. Campion struggled to keep up with the pace of the game and hardly found themselves in Old Harbour’s half. However, the tone of the game changed 10 minutes to half time when Campion’s powerful fullback Dimitri Rose crashed over for his team’s first try. Minutes later, prop forward Isaac Dunkley scored their second, Christopher Lawrence kicked both conversions to see Campion trail 12-14 at the half.
On the resumption, Campion continued their resurgence when Dunkley snagged his second try on the left edge to give his team a 16-14 lead. Both sides then exchanged attacking raids, Old Harbour looked the more threatening but like Campion, numerous ball handling errors saw the chances wasted. With 9 minutes left in the game, Old Harbour scored again when Achong barged over for his second over on the right edge to take a 20-16 lead.
Campion unleashed a series of attacking raids in search of another score but handling errors saw them repelled time and time again. Then, with only two minutes on the clock, it was Old Harbour that came up with a handling error deep in their half near the right sideline.
Campion, knowing they had one last opportunity launched a furious attacking set that brought them 1 meter from the try line. On the fifth and last play of the set, Dunkley cemented his place in Campion’s folklore and his MVP performance by barging over the try line to break Old Harbour’s heart. Jehie Small calmly kicked the conversion to settle the score at 22-20 in favour of the winners.
Winning Coach Andrew Dixon commented;
“We had the same team from last season and I believed from the start that we had it in us to win the competition. We were inconsistent at times during the season, but we always believed we could do it. It’s a massive achievement for the school community, we are famous for our academic prowess, now winning a major school sports title shows that we are a balanced institution with sports and academics”
In the third place play-off, Calabar edged The Cedar Grove Academy 22-16, Makhaya Anderson from the winners leading all scorers with 8 points from two tries.
The U19 season closes on Friday November 29 with the staging of the National 9-a-side tournament at BB Coke High School in St. Elizabeth