The Rugby Americas North Men’s Championship returned after a four-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a sensational 24-23 victory for Guyana against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain.

Guyana’s first match since they lost 19-5 at home to Guadeloupe in the RAN Men’s Championship 2019 went right down to the wire, but the Green Machine came out on top thanks to tight-head prop Rondel McArthur’s hat-trick try on 71 minutes.

Guyana had gone into the game against Trinidad and Tobago having lost their six previous matches, albeit with a raft of different players.

Trailing 13-0 after 31 minutes, Guyana looked to be heading for another defeat but they staged a remarkable comeback, with McArthur at the heart of the revival.

A brace of tries from full-back James Philip had put Trinidad and Tobago in a commanding position but by half-time the deficit was down to a single point.

Winger Godrey Pollydore started the fight-back with Guyana’s first try on 34 minutes before McArthur got in on the act.

McArthur hadn’t scored in any of his previous 21 tests and having broken his international duck, he was hungry for more.

Only two minutes of the second half had elapsed before the Panthers RFC player crashed over again to hand Guyana the lead for the first time.

Kevin Braithwaite’s second conversion of the match made it 19-13 to the visitors, but tries from wingers Anderson Joseph and Jonathan Taylor restored Trinidad and Tobago’s advantage.

The score remained at 23-19 to Trinidad and Tobago for a further 10 minutes, until McArthur grabbed his moment of glory.

Having begun the weekend eight places lower in the rankings, Guyana are now the higher-ranked of the two teams in 52nd place after a climb of five places.

Trinidad and Tobago, who went into the South Zone 1B match placed in 49th, are now 55th, nearly half a point in arrears.

The reverse fixture will take place in Guyana on 22 June.