Vagas claim place in Manx Cup final

Thursday 5th May 2022 3:30 pm
Vagabonds’ scrum half Harri Wallis gets the ball away uner pressure from a Southern Nomads opponent during Saturday’s Ravenscroft Manx Cup clash at Ballakilley on Saturday (Photo: John Liver/Mumbles Pics) ()

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Vagabonds beat Southern Nomads 32-20 at Ballakilley on Saturday to set up a Ravenscroft Manx Cup final against Ramsey in a fortnight’s time.

The game was a proper cup tie with the lead changing hands several times during the contest and the result was in the balance right up to the final minute.

Luca Simmons missed an early penalty for Vagas after only two minutes. From that point onwards, Nomads took charge of proceedings and, despite looking a little overpowered at the set scrummage, they spent a good period inside the Vagas half.

They were finally rewarded just after the quarter-hour mark when right wing Liam Savage finished off an overlap with space to spare and gave Nomads a 5-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long though. From the restart, Vagas wing Hope Chirengwa gave everyone a commitment lesson as he chased the kick-off which was fielded by Nomads’ Mike Quayle.

The Nomads pack was a little slow in securing the ruck and Chirengwa swooped on the loose ball and gave Vagas great field position. The ball was quickly moved right where Matt Rockwell hammered the defensive line.

Another quick ruck was secured and the ball moved back to the left where Cam Findlay made a half break and, when he was felled just shy of the line, Chirengwa was on his shoulder to finish off the play he’d started and level the game at 5-5.

As half-time loomed, Nomads regained the lead. Opting for route one, Orry Watterson and Sami Benbatoul ground their way into the Vagas 22 before Callister dived over from close range for the first of his two tries. Mark Young converted to put Nomads 12-5 in front.

Once again though, the restart cost Nomads. They secured the ball this time and Young punted. Simmons returned the favour and Nomads again elected to kick this time through Sean Christian.

His kick was fielded by Vagas’ Cole Donnelly who carried downfield for big yardage into Nomads’ red zone. Matt Rockwell drove for the line but was just short.

The ball was recycled quickly though and second row Connor Coulthard crashed in from a yard out to leave Nomads 12-10 in front when the whistle went.

Simmons and Young then traded penalties early in the second half and, with just over 10 to play, Nomads clung onto a narrow 15-13 lead until Chirengwa again intervened for Vagas.

Nomads were attacking around halfway and Chirengwa read the play perfectly. He raced into the 10/12 channel and picked off a Nomads pass then hit the turbo button to run 50 metres for the try and an 18-15 lead.

In proper cup tie fashion, Nomads struck back five minutes later. Young had kicked them into good field position and the forwards earned a penalty.

Young tapped this quickly and found a charging Tom Callister who crashed in for his second and more importantly a 20-18 lead with eight minutes remaining.

This time it was Vagas turn to attack and they poured forward on the heels of Mark Oldfield who had worked himself clear.

Rockwell and Cam Findlay both made breaks for the line before Ryan de la Harpe burrowed his way in through a pile of bodies.

Simmons converted and Vagas were 25-20 ahead with four minutes remaining. This left Nomads needing at least a try and they had to throw everything into attack.

As is often the case, an overcommitment to attack leaves gaps in defence and, when a Nomad break was turned over, Vagas put the result beyond any doubt when Findlay broke free and finished with his trademark ‘Cam Slam’. Simmons added the conversion with the final kick of the game.

Vagas will meet Ramsey in the May 14 final.

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