The BVI national men's rugby squad that played in St. Lucia.
Photo Credit: Provided
The BVI National Mens Rugby side marched on to the second round of the North American & Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championships following a narrow, 41-35 against host St. Lucia at Corinth Playing Field last Saturday, January 26.
The victory means that Curacao will visit the BVI in three weeks for the second round of the championships.
A mixture of youth and veteran players made up the BVI team which travelled to St. Lucia, making for a close fixture. This meant that a lot of relatively inexperienced players had to step up to the plate and deliver the goods for the BVI.
St. Lucia came out of the blocks quickly and caught the BVI's defence napping as the host combined well to score two early tries, each worth 5 points.
Defensively, the BVI showed some inexperience and within ten minutes fell behind 10-0.
The BVI rallied and began to contest the game and were rewarded when fly-half, Dustyn Molver intercepted a ball and crashed over for the first BVI try.
Further, BVI pressure saw centre, Tom Chapman score in the corner to level the scores at 10-10.
Molver missed both conversion attempts, but succeeded with a penalty attempt giving the BVI a 13-10 lead. Whilst BVI dominated the scrums and line outs in the first half, St. Lucia was dominant at the breakdown as their pack bullied the BVI at the breakdown, causing numerous turnovers.
The BVI did manage to rumble over from a line out where a catch and drive saw flanker, Andre Adams sneak over for a well worked set piece try.
However, the first half ended as it begun for the BVI, as sloppy play saw St. Lucia first take a penalty and then breakthrough for a try, which when converted gave the host a halftime lead, 20-18.
At the start of the second half, poor defence saw St. Lucia extend their lead to 25-18; however, the BVI rallied with Adams building on some forward pressure and scoring from a pick and go from the St. Lucia line.
Molver's penalty kick gave the BVI another lead, 26-25.
As the game progressed, BVI coach, Sherlock 'Solo' Solomon made key changes that included debutant 16 year-old powerhouse, Austin Keil substituting for fellow junior speedster, Melvin Knight on the wing.
The BVI lead did not last long as St. Lucia rumbled over for a try to reclaim the lead, 30-26. However, the BVI roared back when Jimmy Peters found Molver for his second try of the game, which he then converted to restore the BVI to lead, 33-30.
As the second half progressed, the BVI ran strongly through Molver, Peters and Kiel, whilst full back, Victor Franklyn led the defensive effort. Some good backline play led to a slick pass which put Chapman through.
After sidestepping two men, Chapman looked certain for a score, only to be upended by a last minute tackle. From the turnover, St. Lucia hacked the ball the length of the pitch, putting pressure on the BVI backs. St. Lucia scored and regained the lead, 35-33 as the game clock ticked down.
Hoping and hollering with only nine minutes left on the clock, St. Lucia was convinced the game was in the bag.
Digging deep, the BVI threw everything at the hosts and forward pressure led to a penalty close to the St. Lucia line, which Molver slotted to give BVI the lead at 36-35.
A final well worked line out close to the St. Lucia line saw the pack power over and from the maul, Andre Adams clinched his third try of the afternoon to seal a dramatic victory for the BVI.
Speaking after the game, Captain Donovan Staple dedicated the result to the people of the BVI and Coach Solomon stressed that a lot of work needed to be put in ahead of the visit of Curacao in three weeks.
"It was great that we got the win, but we made life pretty tough for ourselves. This was the first full competitive start for Vasquez and Knight and they learned a lot. Likewise, Kiel, who came on, looks a bright prospect. Whilst the forwards did well in the set piece, the breakdown is a concern where we need to be more astute and aggressive," Solomon stated.
He added, "The backs are improving, but we need more games for the new guys to get experience. Ultimately, we got the result and are bringing rugby back to the BVI. Let's hope we get a good crowd down at fortress Shirley for the visit of Curacao. If we win that then we play Barbados again."
BVI Rugby thanked sponsors who have helped to grow the sport over the past few years, including Digicel, Maples, SHRM, Krys Global, DHL, Captain Mulligans, RTW (Heineken), BVI Olympic Committee and the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Roan Thornton, Patrick Dennis Adrian O´Neill, Federico Zicari, Edward Vasquez, Vivieon Harry, Andre Adams, Andrew Simmonds
Jimmy Peters, Dustyn Molver, Melvin Knight, Donovan Staple (Captain),Thomas Chapman, Jerome Springette, Victor Franklyn
Jeavan Thompson, Damion Brown, Lester Hamer, Simon Knight, Burt Woodley, Austin Keil