The Jamaica Reggae Warriors defeated the USA Hawks 26-24 in a thrilling encounter at the UWI Mona Bowl Stadium on Saturday. The win was Jamaica’s second win over the powerful Hawks in 8 meetings.
The match was played on the International weekend of rugby league and was historic in nature as it marked the USA’s first visit to Jamaica.
The Jamaicans started the game nervously, failing to clear their half on their third set of six. This gave the USA excellent field position at the hand over. The US then powered up the middle with their powerful forwards before scrum-half Charlie Jones aimed a sweet cross field kick into the waiting arms of winger Tristan Sylk for an easy try, Jones then slotted the extra two points for a 6-0 lead.
The Jamaicans held their composure and found the response a few minutes later when speedster Adrian Thomas gathered a bouncing long pass from Fabion Turner and raced in on the left edge to see Jamaica trail 4-6.
The Warriors went 10-6 up immediately after the restart when hooker Akeem Murray broke the defensive line and unloaded to Ryan Grant for his first, Chevaughn Bailey kicked the conversion to put the home team 10-6 ahead.
The ding dong battle continued as USA scored the next two trys; first, second row Jamil Robinson found acres of space in a fractured defensive line on the right edge and then minutes later, debutant Kevin Wathen got in untouched under the posts . Alex Foster kicked both conversions to put ahead USA 18-10, but Jamaica struck back just before the half when powerful center Kevin Thomas released fullback Kenneth Walker on the right edge to score and leave the home team trailing 14-18 at the break.
The Jamaicans took control of the second half with an early try from substitute Jenson Morris who broke from the back of a scrum and muscled his way over the try line on the right edge. Grant then followed up with his second try of the game on the same right edge with a strong run and fend. Prop Mohnejo Thompson kicked both conversions to put the Warriors in charge 26-18.
Both teams continued to trade attacking raids, the Jamaicans perpetually threatening but muffing several more chances through knock-ons. The USA never gave up and were rewarded when Jones sliced through the middle for a try with six minutes on the clock, Foster again converting to see the US trail 24-26 and that is how it ended with the Jamaicans securing another tight win.
USA Hawks team manager Billy Neilson said;
“Tough loss, but it was a great game. The boys on both sides played their hearts out and the crowd was awesome. Congrats to Jamaica and we look forward to running it back.”
Jamaica Head Coach Romeo Monteith said;
“The contest was excellent throughout, though there were many errors, the intensity of the fight in the heat and the never say die attitude of both teams thoroughly entertained the crowd. It’s a pleasure having the US team here for the first time and we look forward to welcoming them again and our future battles. The crowd was awesome and rugby league was the winner.”
USA Hawks Team and scorers.
1.Alex Foster 2. Randy Porter 3. Cody Blackwell 4. Josh Jackson 5.Tristan Sylk 6. Sterling Wynn 7.Charlie Jones 8. Jon Purnell 9. Bart Longchamp 10. Kyle Denham 11. Khalil Harris 12. Jamil Robinson 13. Nick Newlin 14. Sean Hunt 16. Dane Wilcoxen 17. Kevin Wathen
Trys: Jamil Robinson, Charlie Jones, Kevin Wathen, Tristan Sylk.
Goals: Alex Foster 3, Charlie Jones
Jamaica Reggae Warriors Team and scorers.
1. Kenneth Walker 2. Adrian Thomas 3. Steve Miller 4. Kevin Thomas 5. Andrew Simpson 6. Fabion Turner 7. Michael Pearson 8. Mohnejo Thompson 9. Akeem Murray 10. Khamisi McKain 11. Ryan Grant 12. Chawn Henry 13. Chevaughn Bailey 14. Kile Nembhard 15. Roland Grey 16. Jenson Morris 17. Antonio Baker
Trys: Ryan Grant 2, Kenneth Walker, Adrian Thomas, Jenson Morris
Goals: Mohenjo Thompson 2, Chevaughn Bailey