Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chile has an eye on Uruguay after defeating Brazil 38-22 in Rugby World Cup Qualifier

Estadio Germán Bekker - Temuco, Chile
After hosting and dominating Brazil Chile look like seriously challenging Uruguay for the right to face the North America runner-up. Chile led Brazil 23-7 at the interval after Los Condores scored two tries to one and were overall much better than the Brazilians who had their moments but were overall let down by some basic errors. Wet conditions did not help matters but, in general, Brazil was trying to be too expansive and often used width when there were not the support players to secure the ball at the breakdown. 

The scoring began in just the second minute of play after Chile demolished Brazil in the scrum and inside centre got a good pass and stepped off his right foot to break the line and run over untouched. Fullback Javier Valderrana kicked the extras to get Chile off to the perfect start. Valderrana kicked a penalty shortly after the restart as Brazilian nerves saw the men in yellow knock-on to give Chile possession. Brazil had the chance to cut the gap shortly after the restart only for scrumhalf Lucas Duque to miss a basic opportunity from in front of the posts. Valderrana was having no such problems as the fullback continued his accurate kicking to put Chile 13-0 ahead in the 20th minute. Brazil hit back shortly thereafter with a good try by left winger Lucas Tranques. After Chile had kicked poorly Brazil went on a counter attack and Tranques was put into space and went around near the posts to give Duque a simple chance which he took. 

Brazil had Chile´s attention but Los Condores superiority in the scrum was telling as Brazil was being bullied by a technically sound scrum. Valderrana was also able to ease the pressure with the fullback adding anoher penalty to make it 16-7 before French based prop Sergio de La Fuente showed his class by completing a pick and go try that replicates that of Rodrigo Roncero against the All Blacks in Wellington last year. Valderrama slotted the tough conversion from the sideline to give Chile a 23-7 lead in the 37th minute. The remaining time in the first half was all about Brazil but Chile withstood the pressure to go into half time with the game in firm control. 

The secondhalf started off with a moment of controversy as Brazilian secondrowers Lucas Croffi scored a try despite him having touched the ball down on the dead ball line. With no video referee there was no opportunity to have it verified which saw the try awarded. Lucas Duque´s attempted conversion hit the posts to see the score stay at 23-12. Valderrana again proved to be pivotal to the match as the Chilean fullback landed a wide conversion in the 47th minute to put Chile fourteen points ahead. Lucas Duque responded swiftly to make it 26-15 but Chile´s superiority in the forwards saw the home team successfully close out the match. 

With twenty-seven minutes remaining Chile scored a push-over try from a Brazilian put in. Los Condores dominance in the scrum had seen Brazil suffer thtoughout the match but the manner in which Chile´s captain dotted down was a timely reminder of the challenges facing Brazilian rugby. While Brazil has competed at  leading rugby Sevens events, such as Las Vegas and Hong Kong, the Portuguese speaking country is yet to develop leading players in all positions. The lack of quality frontrowers was critical to the outcome in Temoco as Chile was able to play a game centres on its traditional areas of strength. Brazil´s backs, in contrast, often recieved the ball while the scrum was retreating. 

Valderrana converted the try but what was looking like being a perfect night came unstuck in the 64th minute as he missed an attempted conversion following a try scored by replacement Chilean backrower Simón Pardakty. Camped on Brazil´s try line Chile showed patience in constructing its final try to seal the result with seventeen minutes remaining. Valderrama was unable to convert however but with a twenty-three point lead the match was over as a contest. Brazil, though, never gae up and a try scored in the final minute by hooker and captain Daniel Danilewicz. Moises Duque added the conversion to finish the scoring with Chile coming out on top 38-22.

The result means Chile can now plan for its Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay next Saturday knowing that a win will see it advance. Before then Chile will face Argentina in Montevideo in a match likely to feature Chile´s reserves to ensure the best Los Condores team can take the field against Los Teros. Brazil will also play on Wednesday and so in in Montevideo in its second Rugby World Cup Qualifier. It needs to win and needs Uruguay to then defeat Chile if it is to stand ay chance of advancing to face the North American runner-up.

There are no return matches in the CONSUR section of rugby World Cup qualification. Instead the higher rnaked nation is given the right of hosting the lower ranked one. In sporting terms it is far from being just and hopefully changes can be made in time for Rugby World Cup 2019. 

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