Brazil staged a remarkable comeback to beat Argentina XV 36-33 in Buenos Aires while Chile upset Uruguay XV in Montevideo on a day of surprises in the Sudamericano 6 Naciones. Also, Colombia came painstakingly close to beating Paraguay for the first time in seven attempts in the only game of the round that counted towards the World Rugby Rankings.
Paraguay’s two-point, 28-26 win was only decided in the 75th-minute by fly-half Sergio Alvarenga's third penalty after Colombia failed to defend a 26-15 half-time lead. Yet, Los Tucanes showed promise in only their second game at this level in scoring four tries, one more than Los Yacarés who move above Morocco and into 39th place in the rankings as a result of the victory. Colombia drop two places to 43rd with Sri Lanka and Tunisia the beneficiaries.
As well as proving the hero with the boot, Alvarenga also crossed for one of Paraguay’s tries with the others coming from flanker Gonzalo Alvarado and hooker César de Brix. Speedster Jhon Arley Urrutia and Jorge Alvarez shared Colombia’s four tries between them.
In another classic encounter, Argentina XV threw away a 33-3 half-time lead against a Brazil who have now won both of their opening games in the rebranded competition.
After an early Josh Reeves penalty had nudged Brazil in front, Argentina XV ran in five tries before the break with second-rower Benjamín Macome touching down twice. Wingers Manuel Bustinduy and Francisco Liotta and captain Lautaro Bavaro joined him on the scoresheet.
Coach Felipe Contepomi must have thought the result was in the bag as he unloaded his bench but Brazil fought back brilliantly with Michael Moraes scoring twice and tries from João Luiz da Ros and Ariel Rodrigues setting up a grandstand finish.
The game was decided in the last move when veteran loose-forward Ige da Ros tapped a penalty five yards away from the Argentine try-line. After he was stopped just short, flanker Arthur Bergo picked up at the base of the ruck and crashed over to claim a much-celebrated victory.
Chile keep their nerve
At the Estadio Charrua in Montevideo, full-back Tomás Ianiszewski expertly converted Pablo Huete’s last-minute try from a tight angle to hand Chile a 22-20 win over Uruguay XV with the last kick of the game.
Coming off an opening round win over Colombia, Uruguay scored first in the 22nd minute when they were awarded the first of two penalty tries. To make matters worse for Los Condores, Rodrigo Moya was yellow carded.
The score stayed 7-0 to Uruguay until the 44th minute when a drop goal from full-back Manuel Blengio took the home side’s lead into double figures.
Five minutes later Los Cóndores opened their account, through the boot of Ianiszewski, before Javier Richard and Francisco de la Fuente scored tries in quick succession to put the visitors in front for the first time in the game.
A second penalty try and a penalty from Federico Favaro made it 20-15 to Uruguay XV heading towards the closing stages but Chile refused to accept defeat and Huete’s try levelled the scores with only seconds left on the clock. Then, up stepped Ianiszewski to deliver the extras and a famous victory.
Even though the match did not have full test match status and therefore didn't count towards the rankings, Chile still managed to improve their position, by one place to 30th, after Korea lost at home to Hong Kong in the Asia Rugby Championship. Kenya also benefitted from the Koreans' demise, which saw them lose two places, by moving up one place to 29th.
Next up, competition leaders Brazil take on Colombia at the Sao Paulo Athletic Club on Saturday. Chile host Paraguay in Santiago and Argentina XV and Uruguay XV will close out the tournament on Sunday in Buenos Aires.
Second half surge from Sweden
Winger Erik Arviddson scored a try in each half as Sweden secured third place in Rugby Europe Conference 1 North with a 50-27 win against Latvia.
Latvia only needed a point from the final game of the season to avoid relegation and they looked on course to survive after they went into the break only six points down. However, Sweden pulled away in the second half to win easily and as a result the two nations trade places in the rankings with Sweden up to 57th and Latvia down to 60th.
Denmark fell short of matching last week’s record-breaking exploits, but they were still far too good for Finland in Helsinki. The Danes ran in nine tries – half their tally in beating Estonia 127-5 – to win their final 2 North fixture 57-10. Winger Cassius Deschamps contributed 17 points through a try and six conversions, to add to his incredible 42-point haul on debut, as Denmark finished the season in second place behind champions Luxembourg. Having picked up a full rating point for the victory, Denmark also move up three places to 79th with India, Peru and St Vincent & Grenadines the sides to suffer.
Tries from flanker William Ford topped and tailed Norway’s first win of the season in 2 North, 47-16 away to Estonia. No rating points were awarded to 96th-ranked Norway though as Estonia are not full members of World Rugby.
Jamaica land RAN Cup
Jamaica completed the double over Barbados in the Rugby Americas North Cup, taking the second leg 36-29 despite trailing by five points at half-time and conceding three yellow cards in the match. Barbados put in a much-improved showing from the 60-14 loss in Bridgetown a fortnight ago but a brace from back-rower Stephen Miller and a try from Shamar Creary turned the game in the home side’s favour.
In winning the two-match series Jamaica have also been promoted to the RAN Championship. Barbados will be joined in the 2019 RAN Cup by the bottom-placed side of Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and the USA South Panthers.
USA South began their RAN Championship campaign with a 48-28 win against Bermuda.
Guam take Asian title
Two wins in the space of four days, 66-12 against Brunei and 52-12 against China, saw Guam claim the Asia Rugby Championship Division III East title. The results saw the Flying Proas climb three places to 69th, their highest-ever ranking. Chris Sgro starred in the title-clinching win against China with four tries.
“Everything tastes a bit sweet when you are raising the trophy. It was a great job by the boys, for half of the team it was their debut, and I can’t say enough about them,” said Guam captain Brian Ramiro.
China closed out their campaign with a 39-18 win over tournament hosts Brunei, to consolidate 87th place in the rankings.
Ghana win Bronze Cup
Despite being the lowest-ranked in the tournament, hosts Ghana won the Rugby Africa Bronze Cup, following victories over Rwanda (57-0) and Mauritius (23-17). As a result, Ghana win automatic promotion to the Silver Cup, the region’s second-tier competition, with the added bonus of a four-place rise in the rankings to 89th.
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