Jamaica Make History in Jacksonville

By Daniel Andruczyk

Jamaica 32 – 12 Canada in Jacksonville, Florida

History was made two-fold tonight in Jacksonville. The Canadian Wolverines Played their first match in a tournaments and their second international opposition since coming back to Rugby League and secondly the Jamaican Rugby league team finally got their Maiden win. Having narrowly lost on Tuesday, and some feel that they we unfairly treated, Jamaica finally landed on the Rugby League landscape and have sounded out a warning to for next years World Cup Qualifiers – Don’t write us off.

It was a fairly chilly night at Hodges Stadium, a small but very vocal crowd had braved the cold and turned up to cheer both teams on. From the kick off it was evident that both teams were a bit nervous. Dropped balls and silly mistakes saw about 8 scrums pack down in the opening 10 minutes, in fact there were 3 mistakes in the first 60 seconds! By the seventh minute though it was the Canadians who were the first to break through the line and score through Geoffrey Bylund. It took another 16 minutes for Jamaica to hit back. The family combination of Ashley and Greg Johnson saw Ash score a hat-trick of tries off some superb off loads fro Greg. In the 17th minute there was a bit of a scuffle between the players but in the end it was really just some steam being let off by the players. The Jamaicans led 16-4 into the break.


Kieron Purtill, the Canadian coach must have said something inspirational in the break, because in the minute after half time, the Canadians were the first to score through Henry Miers. The momentum seemed to shift the Wolverines way. On the back of some mid field breaks where they were able to run 50 meters they threatened several times with Miers being held up over the line. Eventually the Jamaicans line broke and Cam Grace put in a 4 pointer. Remember Cam comes from Canadian sporting royalty, where his grandfather is Syl Apps. Unfortunately Adam Moody missed all three conversions so Canada were still trailing 16-12, but as I said it seemed the pendulum had swung in their favour.

But Rugby League is a funny old business, several mistakes near their line and also panicking in other times and kicking the ball away, gave the Jamaicans the sniff they needed to retake the initiative. This time it was Gregory Johnson who went over for a try. Greg’s overall performance in the match was to earn him the Man of the Match award. Pressure from Jamaica saw the Canadians commit a crucial error where a ball went loose and Paul white swept in to put it under the sticks. Finally Alex Brown sealed the match 10 minutes from the end and give the Jamaicans an un assailable 32-12 lead.


Despite the lead, the Canadians never gave up and another line break saw them march 40 meters up the field and it looked that them might get at least one more try back. But alas it was not to be and in the end the final whistle went form Referee Phil Bentham and the Reggae Rugby was in celebration, having just made history winning their first ever International Match. Dean Thomas the Jamaican coach had a massive smile on his face and was all prise for his lads. But he also had some great words for the Canadians “they played with a lot of heart” he said “and once they get their domestic comp going they definitely will be as strong as any nation”. Kieron Purtill despite the loss was high in praise for his boys “It was our second game of international Rugby League and there is no question the passion we had”. He went on ‘”Its been a steep learning curve for all of us”.

Despite the small crowd, around 200 once again, they were vocal. There was a small Canadian contingent as well and they made sure that everyone heard them. Its great to se that a true Rugby league culture is being developed in Jacksonville and the future is bright for the sport here.

Jamaica (32): A. Johnson (23m, 34m, 38m), G. Johnson (57m), P. White (66m) A. Brown (70m) Conv. A. White (4/6)

Ashley Johnson, Robert Rodney, Alex Brown, Greg Johnson, Wayne Reti, Paul White (c), Roy Calvert, Andrew Fong, Jermain Wray, Romain Campbell, Tyronne Row, Lemont Bryan, Jow Brown, Interchange: Marvin Thomson, Damon Gail, Jahdeek Clarke, Andre Reid, Umar Jones, Coach: Dean Thomas

Canada (12): G. Bylund (7m), H Miers (42m), C. Grace (54m)

Rafal Kaczmarek, Shane Farrell, Geoffrey Bylund, Tyler Allen, Antonio Felix, Adam Moody, Matthew Wyles, Thomas Kimball, David Burton, Steve Lamb, Cameron Grace (c), Henry Myers, Timothy Mason Interchange: Mark Hanke, Dale Fitzgerald, Ben White, Stephen Conlon, Coach: Kieron Purtill

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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