Three second half penalties from Francisco Cruz enabled Chile to come from behind and beat traditional rivals Uruguay 21-18 on Friday to win the first phase of the South American Championship 2011.
With the try-line remaining unbroken at Cataratas Rugby Club the match became a tale of the kickers with Matías Arocena giving Uruguay a 9-0 lead in the opening quarter with two penalties and a drop goal.
Cruz cut the deficit with two kicks of his own before trading efforts with Arocena. Benjamín Omegna got Chile back on level terms with a drop goal, but on the stroke of half time Arocena edged Uruguay back into a 15-12 lead.
The scores were still all square with just under 15 minutes to go with Cruz’s two penalties cancelling out Arocena’s latest effort and it looked like a draw would be the final result, until the Chilean full back had the final say a minute from time.
Chile now face a short turnaround before facing defending champions Argentina on Saturday, the first game in the second phase with Uruguay then facing Los Pumas on Wednesday.
There was also cause for Brazil to smile in their final match as they ran out 51-14 winners over Paraguay to crucially avoid finishing bottom and facing the prospect of a play-off with South American B Championship winners to stay in the elite competition for 2012.
Brazil never looked back from the moment Vitor Medeiros crossed for their first try in the 11th minute, Joao Luiz da Rosa, Pedro Rosa (2) and Moises Duque also crossing the try-line in the first half with three Luís Reyes penalties the only response from Paraguay.
The lead quickly grew from 27-9 with Thiago Maihara and Julian Menutti scoring tries before Paraguay gave their fans something to cheer with Fabrizio da Rosa’s try. Brazil, though, kept the pressure up with Joao Carlos Orioli Junior and Lucas Duque touching down to seal the comfortable victory.
Fixtures and Results
14 May 2011 @ Cataratas Rugby Club in Iguazu
Uruguay 102-6 Paraguay
Chile 25-6 Brazil
17 May @ Cataratas Rugby Club in Iguazu
14:00 Chile 71-3 Paraguay
16:10 Uruguay 39-15 Brazil
20 May @ Cataratas Rugby Club in Iguazu
13:45 Uruguay 18-21 Chile
16:10 Brazil 51-14 Paraguay
22 May @ Cataratas Rugby Club in Iguazu
16:00 Argentina v Chile
25 May @ Capri, Posadas
16:00 Argentina v Uruguay