The Bermuda National Rugby Team travelled to Atlanta on Friday to take on a developing USA South Rugby team as a warm up fixture for the upcoming Caribbean Championships. With lots of new faces in the 23 man squad, the team was looking for a hard workout ahead of their first match against Cayman Islands on May 19th and this was exactly what they received.
Playing in sweltering heat and humidity, Bermuda began the brighter of the two teams pressurizing USA South deep in their own 22 meter area. After several attacks, Bermuda were unlucky not to score the first try of the match with David Pringle hitting a great line in the backs and being held up just short of the try line. Play was eventually brought back for Shauntino Simons to have the first attempt at goal of the day but he was narrowly off target. This miss seemed to galvanize the USA South team as they worked the ball to their big Tongan inside centre, who despite having two men tackle him, still got the offload away. After several faces, the USA South full back scored for the games first try, which was duly converted.
From the restart, Bermuda was next on the attack looking for their first try and it duly came almost straight from the kick off. Bermuda spoiled the USA South’s ball and managed to create the turn over. Bermuda’s giant of a prop Jahan Cedenio picked a great line outside the fly half and from 40 meters out, barge his way over the opposition fly half and then rounded the full back to score Bermuda’s first try, which was converted by Ian Henderson.
In a seesawing first half, the tries continued to come thick and fast, with both teams attack outweighing their defense. USA South were next on the score board with another well worked try, but Bermuda were again quick to respond with a try from Bongani Ndlovu following a catch and drive from the line out. This was converted by Simons to bring the scores level again. Henderson added a penalty for Bermuda before USA South added to their try tally with another converted try. In the last play of an entertaining first half, Andre Landy found himself in the forwards and following good initial work, picked up and barreled his way over the line, with Simons adding the spectacular touchline conversion to make the scores 24 all at half time.
Both teams made numerous changes at half time which affected the flow of the game in the second half but didn’t take away from the entertainment value. Only one try was scored in the second half and it went the way of the USA South. The remainder of Bermuda’s points came from the boots of Ian Henderson and Shauntino Simons, including a massive 40 meter effort from Simons to draw the game level at 33 all with minutes to play. With Peter Dunkerley in the sin bin, Bermuda couldn’t keep out the wave after wave of attacks and USA South eventual crossed the line for the only try in the second half in the dying minutes to make the final score USA South 38 Bermuda 33.
Despite the heat, humidity and the result, this was just the work out and pre-Caribbean Championship warm up match that Bermuda required. The game was a fast paced and physical, and undoubtedly gave the coaches some selection headaches ahead of May 19th with all 23 players taking the field and putting their hand up for selection.
Bermuda take on Cayman Islands on May 19th at National Sports Centre (North Field) at 3pm in the first game in their defense of the Caribbean Championships.