IN front of a crowd of 4,630, one of the largest ever to watch a rugby league game in North America, Canada’s Wolverines defeated Jamaica’s Reggae Warriors, 18-12, at the annual Caribbean Carnival Cup last Saturday at the Lamport Stadium in Toronto.
Apart from retaining the cup, the Canadians lead 2-1 in alltime match-ups against the Jamaicans.
Ryan Grant kicked a penalty after only four minutes to hand the Reggae Warriors a 2-0 advantage. But the North Americans immediately and ferociously countered to rush to a 6-2 lead through Matt Wyles, who penetrated a trio of defenders to score, and Stu McReynolds, who was on tap for a conversion.
Mid-way through the half, Stephen Lamb bulldozed down the right-hand corner for the Canadians to extend the upperhand to 10-2.
On the brink of the half, Jamaica should have scored but winger Adrian McKenzie dropped a high ball kicked by fullback Renaldo Wade.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Reggae Warriors strutted their stuff to display their colourful and explosive brand of rugby league, with Jermaine Pinnock leading the charge.
Pinnock broke through the Canadian defence, allowing the quick-footed McKenzie, a GC Foster College student making his debut, to elude two defenders to score under the sticks.
Ryan Grant kicked through the conversion as Jamaica reduced to deficit 10-8.
As the Warriors stiffened their resolve to reel in the Canadians, the home team notched a controversial try against the run of play when prop forward Cam Grace crashed over the try line with three defenders hanging onto him.
The visitors were convinced the big man was held up, but American referee Cody Kuxmann saw it differently after consulting with linesmen and citing benefit of doubt.
The Canadians moved ahead 14-8.
Pinnock engineered another rally for the Warriors when he fed an inside pass to scrum half Fabian Turner, who dashed 20 metres for a try. Jamaica trailed 14-12 with under 15 minutes remaining.
Fortune seemed to have favoured Jamaica when Ryan Grant, tormentor of the home team’s defence, ran by three defenders and hit stride for the try line.
The ball, however, slipped out of his hands on the verge of scoring.
With that opportunity muffed, the Wolverines sealed the game from another controversial try. A quick tap from a penalty restart made way for Henry Miers to crash over unchallenged.