by RENALDO DORSETT
In the latest chapter of the Bahamas’ rivalry with Bermuda on the rugby pitch, the home team got revenge for a loss in 2012.
The Bahamas overcame a slow start to score a 21-15 win in the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) 15-a-Side North Caribbean Qualification match Saturday at the Winton Rugby Centre.
It was the first time the Bahamas defeated Bermuda in the NACRA Championships for the first time in over a decade.
Charles Smith scored the go ahead try with just under two minutes left to play, a try that he called the greatest in his rugby career.
“It was emotional. I think I cried when I got over. We weren’t going to lose this game. We came together as a family and said we were not going to come here and let them walk away with this victory,” he said, “We have been working hard on our fitness and in the second half I could see that Bermuda was getting very physical and started to tire a little bit. We just took that to our advantage and used it. They gained some yards but we were patient.”
It took 26 minutes for the first score to break through, but Bermuda eventually built a 10-0 lead.
Giovanni Rolle scored the first try for the Bahamas and Kevin Salabie added the first of his three successful conversions.
The visitors led 10-7 at the half.
The home team took their first lead of the day when Michael Watkins scored in the 45th minute.
After Bermuda regained the late, the Bahamas was able to regain composure and Smith’s late game heroics powered them to the win.
Head coach Manoli Roussos said it was a spirit of togetherness that helped the team weather the storm.
“We’re like a family,” he said, “The guys knew they had each other’s backs. Knew to trust and knew to believe. No arguments, no one thought they were better than anyone else. That’s where the belief started. This is where it starts, we have to go to Turks and continue it.”
The Bahamas is set to take on Turks and Caicos Islands in the third match of the round robin on April 18.
Member of the team Bahamas coaching staff, Drew Brown, echoed the sentiments.
“It was everything they trained for everything we drilled in, we reminded them at the start of the second half and they put it into play,” he said, “A lot of it was heart. Tremendous heart. This was about family, not just athleticism we wanted it more and we got it.”
Team Bermuda’s Roedolf van der Westhuzien said the heat, fatigue and sloppy mistakes led to his team’s loss.
“We lost our way in the middle portion of the game. We lost a bit of composure. The yellow card didn’t help the cause and we surrendered that quick try shortly after that,” he said, “Silly mistakes and fatigue. We were disappointed in what we did, we just have to go to the drawing board and fix it.”
In 2012, the Bahamas fell 16-8 to Bermuda in their second game of the North
Zone group as Bermuda moved on to defend its NACRA Caribbean Championship .
The 2015 NACRA championships have been divided into two competitions and four divisions, accompanied with a relegation and promotion system playoff. The two competitions are the Championship League and the Cup League.
The Bahamas is a member of the Cup League which features teams in two divisions, North and South. The North Cup League features the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The South Cup League includes the British Virgin Islands, Curacao, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The winners in the Cup League will earn an opportunity to play their way into the Championship League by facing off against the third place side among the Champions.