The ‘Green Machine’ rugby team returned home last evening to a hero’s welcome yesterday after regaining the Rugby America’s North (RAN) 15s trophy (southern zone) from Trinidad following Saturday’s gritty 22-18 win.
As fans along with Director of Sport, Christopher Jones and photographers lined the arrivals lounge at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the union’s president, Peter Green described the achievement against their higher ranked opponents as something “all of Guyana should recognize.”
“It was close but we took back our pride and dignity after last year’s close loss, all Guyana should recognize this team,” said Green.
The contingent was all smiles after landing after a hard-fought and physically brutal game where no quarter was asked and none given. Inevitably, the ‘Green Machine’ prevailed to reverse last year’s bitter 22-20 loss to take the 2016 south zone title from champions and fierce rival.
According to Coach of the unit, Laurie Adonis, the low score was indicative of the physical and defensive nature of the game played at the Hasely Crawford stadium.
“It was a bruising game with Claudius Butts and Ryan Gonsalves going to hospital for stitches, David taking a blow to the throat and Osei one to the face. Patrick King was tackled around the neck and Jason Tyrell and others received bruising blows but Guyana prevailed despite the Trinidadians throwing the kitchen sink at us.”
Adonis noted that the Trinidadian game plan was about focusing on Kevin McKenzie and King, “but we had them bemused because everyone played their roles and put them under pressure. Patrick was only brought on in the latter half of the game and immediately wore them down with his speed before offloading for the others to finish.”
Adonis, who opined that the team has finally bonded, added that the game was absolutely entertaining with big hits from both sides.
Game notes: Guyana opened the scoring with a penalty kick by Gonsalves for three points before increasing the lead to eight with a try by McKenzie. Gonsalves was felled by vicious kick to the face necessitating almost 10 stitches. Trinidad pulled within try after breaching Guyana’s try-line.
Guyana put seven more points on board from Butt’s try and a Lance Adonis conversion before Trinidad scored again to make it 10 to Guyana 15. But soon after Trinidad would go up 18-15 with another try and a penalty kick with just five minutes on the clock.
The ‘Green Machine’ then transformed into robot mode by launching all-out attack by solidly working their way into Trinidad’s half. Player of the match (Osei) McKenzie in arguably the play of the match, then gave Guyana the winner by diving over under the goal post with two Trinidadians trying in vain to stop him.
The conversion was promptly buried by Adonis to seal the win.
The national team which also defeated Barbados and Jamaica prior to Saturday’s match, will now face the winner of the Northern Zone (either Cayman Island or Mexico) for the overall spoils of the RAN Championship, but most importantly will move up in the world ranking by at least three places.
The Cayman Islands/ Mexico game is scheduled for July 5.
Green also noted that the winner of the RAN trophy, progresses to the next round to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in November. (Emmerson Campbell)