Bermuda thrash Gibraltar to delight home crowd
Bermuda thumped Gibraltar to give departing coach Jamie Barnwell the perfect send off at the National Sports Centre North Field on Sunday.
A dominant second-half display powered the hosts to an emphatic 35-16 triumph that sent Barnwell off into the sunset on a glorious note.
“The guys have done brilliantly,” Barnwell said.
“It’s actually been really tricky because we haven’t played and we haven’t been in a regular season. We have had a short time only to prepare but the guys felt their way through that game and did a really good job. They are great players.”
Despite finishing on a high, Barnwell’s thoughts were with Bermuda’s outside centre Hadleigh Tucker, who went off near the end with a suspected broken wrist.
“My overriding feeling is with him,” Barnwell said. “We think he has broken his wrist and he’s a key man, particularly for the Sevens game for us.”
Having been national coach for nearly four years, Barnwell has had time to reflect and said it was an honour to have served in the role.
“It’s an honour to coach Bermuda and I'm so lucky to have been able to do it,” he said.
“We set our stall out when I joined in January 2019. We won a Caribbean championship and have always performed brilliantly, so these guys have been great. I am really happy for them.”
Penalties dominated the early stages of the match as Bermuda drew first blood when Robbie Reid kicked a penalty from the left side but the momentum shifted as Gibraltar hit back through two penalties from Benn Morris to capitalise on their numerical advantage after Reid was sent to the sin bin.
David Lunn’s penalty drew Bermuda level before full back Alex Brown bundled over for the first try of the match. Lunn converted the extra points right on the stroke of half-time to send the hosts into the break with a 13-6 advantage.
Gibraltar came out strongly in the second half and quickly cut the deficit when Morris converted another penalty but Bermuda stopped their opponents’ rally dead in its tracks when Reid dispatched a penalty before running in for a try in the right corner.
He duly grabbed the extra points to place the hosts firmly in control with a commanding 23-9 lead.
With Gibraltar now under intense pressure, Bermuda put the game further beyond their reach when Jahniko Francis crossed for a try in the left corner on his very first possession.
Jack Eccleston then ran in Gibraltar’s only try of the match against the run of play with Morris converting the extra points.
But it was Bermuda who would have the final say as winger Mike Kelley caught a pass from Tucker, who was injured in the process, and bundled over the line on the second attempt. Reid converted the extra points to put the icing on the cake.
“It was a fantastic day out,” Tom Healey, the Bermuda captain, said.
“We were a little nervous coming up against Gibraltar given the lesson we learnt in our last game, so we were pretty focused on our game plan.
“It was our coach Jamie Barnwell’s last game and he was well drilled. We knew what we were doing when we came out on the park and we executed well.”
Bali Salisbury, the Gibraltar coach was magnanimous in defeat and keen to praise the home team’s performance.
“Absolutely massive credit to Bermuda,” Salisbury said. “They showed us how to play and their patience when they had the ball was the difference.
“They held on to the ball for longer periods and were good with it in their hands, which made us go offside and gave them territory. It was a great game by Bermuda and all credit to them.”