Saturday, February 24, 2018

Harvard whip Royalians to seal TTRFU Championship


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Harvard Sports Club are the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Football Union (TTRFU) Toyota Championship Division winners, and the first team other than Stag Trinidad Northern in over two decades to dethrone Caribs Rugby Football Club.

St James-based Harvard wrapped up the title yesterday with a 45-12 victory over a battling Royalians outfit, when only victory would do for their title aspirations at Pitch III on Queen's Park Savannah.

After a slow start Harvard bolted to a 21-0 lead by half-time, and despite some sloppy defensive work in the second period, still outscored Royalians 24-12 in the second period to ensure victory.

Three of their seven tries came from surging runs by winger Claudius Butts, while flanker Wayne Kelly (two tries), winger David Gokool and full back Ryan Hinckson (one try each) ensured Harvard never trailed. Hinckson also converted five of the seven Harvard tries.

With the victory Harvard edged out defending champions Caribs, who led by three points after their finals fixture against Police last Sunday. Harvard had the chance to do so last year with a one-point lead in the standings, but lost to Trinidad Northern in their final encounter.

There may have been a few nerves from the Harvard fans as their team failed to score for the first 20 minutes. Rather it was Royalians taking the battle to them early, and it took Harvard some time to settle before the showers came briefly. Once they did, the tries started pouring in.

The first came in the 24th; Kelly finally broke through after a succession of Harvard attacks to scramble the ball over the line, and Hinckson punted home the conversion from an angle on the left.

Nine minutes later Harvard were 21-0 ahead, Butts taking advantage of a Royalians turnover in the 30th for his first try, and three minutes later Gokool, set free in the Harvard half, took the ball all the way down the left flank. Hinckson converted both.

Eight minutes into the second half Royalians found a way back into the contest. They kept Harvard in their own half with a series of raids, and the minute Harvard provided some pace, number eight Kevin Hercules-Lucas collected a pass from outside centre Kelson Figaro to finish, before Figaro converted the kick. Harvard answered through Hinckson, who missed his own conversion. But they handed the points back through Aasan Lewis, who lost the ball deep in his own defence, allowing inside centre Kereem Figaro to retrieve and score.

But Butts underscored his importance to Harvard's offence with two forceful runs either side of the Kelly try. In the 62nd Lewis redeemed himself, scooping up a loose ball with Harvard rushing forward to set Butts free.

And after Kelly carried home a Royalians fumble in the 71st, Butts sealed things five minutes later with a run from half-line all the way down to the goal-line.