The Colombian Toucans beat a spirited host side Peru to win their second consecutive South American B Championship in Lima.
Inspirational captain Sebastián Mejía Gil scored a hat-trick as Colombia recorded a 28-15, four-try win to set up a promotion decider against Brazil, on 12 December, in Sao Paulo, to decide who plays in the region’s top tier next season. They had previously beaten Venezuela 33-5 and Ecuador 77-13.
In the earlier game on Saturday, at the Newton College, Venezuela beat Ecuador 42-11 to secure third place.
“It was important to come to Peru and continue in our pathway to play better rugby and grow individually as players and a team,” said Gil, whose wife Solangie Delgado will compete at next year’s Olympic Games as a member of Colombia’s women’s sevens team.
“We have a young team, full of ambition and prepared to work very hard, every day. We will go to Brazil now to test ourselves against a better ranked team.”
For the first time ever in Colombia the game against Peru, attended by a crowd of 2,500 spectators, was shown live on free-to-air television - one of the many benefits that the success of Rugby World Cup 2015 has brought to smaller nations. It was a real contest and a great game won by the Colombians due to their superior strength and patience that only came through in the second half.
The Tumis opened the scores when scrum-half Juan del Pino found a defensive lapse close to a ruck to run 20 metres unopposed in the ninth minute. Soon after, with a Peruvian player in the sin-bin, Gil crossed after a series of short attacks from close range for an unconverted try. An exchange of penalties sent the home side to the break with a 10-8 lead.
A second yellow card to Peru allowed the Colombians, who were starting to impose themselves physically, to score two tries through captain Gil and wing Juan Davila before the 50th minute.
Using their huge forwards, the Toucans continued to attack but a staunch Peruvian defence denied them more tries until the 74th minute when Gil scored his third try of the game and sixth in the tournament, sealing the top-try scoring award and securing the player of the tournament award.
The proud Peruvians never gave up and, attacking from their own field, managed to touch down one minute from the end to narrow the gap to the final 28-15 score.
South American B Championship results
Colombia 77-13 Ecuador
Peru 24-10 Venezuela
Colombia 33-5 Venezuela
Peru 30-0 Ecuador
Venezuela 42-11 Ecuador
Colombia 28-15 Peru
Photo: Frankie Deges
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