Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) Spartans defeated Cedar Grove Cyclones 28-14 in overtime to be crowned JRLA/RLATG National Division 2 Champions on Saturday. It marked the first time the Spartans have claimed the coveted cup after only three years in the competition.
CMU were first off the mark when captain Marlon Nunes crossed for a try on minute 4. However, Antonio “The Destroyer” Baker answered for Cedar Grove with a bull dozing run on minute 15, Stephen Scott then kicked the goal to give the underdogs a surprising 6-4 lead which they carried into halftime.
Both teams traded attacking raids early in the second half; however, it was CMU’s talented forward Orlando Messado who added to the score with a bustling try in the left corner to see CMU move ahead 8-6. Despite dominating the ensuing passage of play, Cedar Grove found more joy on the left edge when a cross field kick from Othniel Holness was snatched by former National player Stephen Scott who dotted down untouched for a try to put his team up 10-8.
The Spartans never panicked and continued to execute their sets, the constant once more paid off when forward Joshawn Stewart bullied his way from close range to score a try with 8 minutes left on the clock, Nunes kicked the ensuing goal to give CMU a 14-10 lead. Despite falling behind again, Cedar Grove continued to press for the equaling score.
With only one minute remaining in regular time, Baker got the ball 15m out from the try line and went on one of his trade mark destructive runs. He bulldozed his way through 5 defenders to score just wide of the posts and leveled the score at 14-14. . Scott had the chance to secure an unlikely victory for the Cyclones, but uncharacteristically missed the goal attempt which left the game in deadlock and into extra-time.
It was a different affair in time added on as the Spartans found a new gear and the Cyclones were unable to match them. Tries from Messado, Kishony Campbell and Ceres Stephenson along with a goal from Stephan Williams all went unanswered as CMU pulled away to claim their maiden Division 2 Championship, 28-14.
Stephan Williams who is also Sports Coordinator at CMU said;
“The victory means a lot to the CMU family. We have come a far way from being an underdog team, to being a team that is a force in rugby league. We are also happy to demonstrate to the University that the investment in this team is a good one as we have shown we are capable of winning titles.”
Meanwhile Antonio Baker, coach of the Cyclones commented;
“Rugby league is played in seconds and inched at times where teams have to make use of the opportunities presented, we had the chance to secure the win but didn’t do so and ended up in extra time where the more experience team outplayed us. Notwithstanding, we are proud of the boys and applaud their performance throughout the tournament.”
Portmore Eliminators emerged victorious in the Third Place Playoff with a surprise 38-24 victory over dethroned champions Duhaney Park Red Sharks A. Portmore were led by Lucien Williams who amassed 18 points from 3 tries and 3 goals.