Saturday, May 9, 2015

CONSUR: Paraguay complete back-to-back wins over Brazil

Photo Bagarai
Paraguay ended the 2015 South American Championship in memorable fashion by beating the higher ranked Brazil in an away international. Played earlier today Los Yakares out performed a disjointed Brazil in Bento Gonçalves to complete a 20-11 away victory. With the win Paraguay is to now rise in the World Rankings and do so at the expense of Brazil. The home side lost in part through it's policy of safe-guarding Rugby Sevens players ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Paraguay is to now play host to Los Pumas in two weeks time in Asunción. The international game will take place at the new national rugby stadium in the capital. 


Having started the game strongly Brazil appeared to be the better team and likely to avenge the 2014 away defeat in Asunción. The home side was on top at scrum time and also in the tackle area with the Paraguayans failing to keep up with Brazil at the breakdown. Brazil thus took an early 3-0 lead through a penalty and then went eight points ahead shortly thereafter with the opening try. 

Twenty minutes into the game though Brazil's control was ended and the home side would fail to recover. Brazil did have opportunities to extend it's lead but a lack of execution was costly eight potential points through the boot were missed in the opening half. More noteworthy, however, was the sloppy play from the Brazilians which proved to be decisive. 

Paraguay went into the interval just a point behind following a superb try out wide from Sérgio Alvarenga. With him converting his own try Paraguay's players went into the break with their heads up while Brazil's, in contrast, appeared to be puzzled. The unconvincing Brazil performance, nonetheless, had the home side in front and an improved performance ought to have been enough to see Brazil complete a comfortable win. 

Any hope of Brazil playing closer to it's best disappeared in the opening minutes of the second half as the lackluster performance continued to produce repeated unforced errors and Brazil's scrum dominance ended with Paraguay, instead, being awarded penalties while Brazil's lineout disintegrated. Alvarenga then continued his strong tournament by putting Paraguay ahead for the first time in the match. 

10-8 was extended shortly thereafter when Alejandro Montiel breezed through some weak Brazilian defence to score Paraguay's second try. Alvarenga added the extras to make it a nine point game with thirty minutes left to play. The subsequent twenty minutes saw missed opportunities from both teams and it was not until the final ten minutes that more points were scored. 

Brazil never gave up but appeared to be playing as a team that was not giving the opposition the required level of respect at such a level. Indeed, even with Paraguay leading by nine points, Brazil turned down kickable penalties to go for the corner. Inaccuracy at the lineout cost Brazil on two occasions with Paraguay proving to have resilient defense. 

The game came to a close with Brazil and Paraguay having traded penalties to close out the match. It meant Paraguay was victorious by a scoreline of 20-11 and had thus completed back-to-back wins over the higher ranked Brazil. Paraguay thus confirmed it's place in the 2014 South American Championship while Brazil will now have to face the winner of CONSUR B in a repercharge match-up. Colombia won the 2014 competition convincingly. 

Paraguay's celebrations will likely continue over the coming days. Los Yakares have a home international against Argentina on May 23. The match is a fully capped fixture which will be played at the home of Paraguayan rugby. 

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