After beating USA 16-10 in Jacksonville on Saturday, a Jamaican team boasting Super League quality ensured that the nation qualified for their first ever RLWC campaign and will participate in the 2021 edition in England.
Against the odds, the Reggae Warriors triumphed over their more-fancied American opponents, a team who have competed in the past two World Cups. In their ranks, the Hawks had Hull FC’s Bureta Faraimo lining up in the centres and the powerful back kicked one of his two attempts at goal for the USA after Connor Donehue and Ryan Burroughs crossed for tries – but only after the Jamaicans, led by man of the match Ashton Golding, had raced into a sixteen point lead.
Leeds man Golding started at hooker as head coach Romeo Monteith sprung a surprise and, despite a neck injury in the second half, he continued. In the first half, the 22-year-old provided from dummy-half and teamed up with Halifax’s James Woodburn-Hall to release Joel Farrell and the Sheffield-bound forward opened the scoring. Less than ten minutes later, interchange Jacob Ogden sent the Jamaican sport into raptures as they extended their lead, allowing them to think the unthinkable. Ogden, a player who had played the majority of his 2018 rugby in Betfred League One with either Coventry Bears or London Skolars on loan from the Super League-bound Broncos, grounded in the corner after Farrell’s pass went to ground and, along with four goals in the first half from Jy-Mel Coleman of the Skolars, a 16-10 lead was held by the Reggae Warriors at half-time.
A scoreless second half followed after the defences dominated, something the Jamaican team would certainly have settled for and, following the final whistle, Monteith’s team and staff celebrated, the euphoria clear for all to see. After triumphing over their more-favoured opponents, Monteith, Golding and Co. have a maiden World Cup appearance to look forward to. The American team, however, will have to go through a second qualification process in 2019 as they aim for a place at a third consecutive World Cup outing.