Guyana have won the NACRA Championship 2014 title after a thrilling 30-27 extra-time win over USA South in Atlanta.
With the scores locked at 27-27 after a tension-filled 99 minutes of play and the final set to be decided by a kicking contest, up stepped Guyana scrum half Ryan Gonsalves to land what proved to be the match-winning penalty.
The result was hard to take for Northern Championship winners USA South and, in particular, their centre Matt Hughston, who scored a first-half hat-trick - in addition to a try from number 8 Brendan Smith - to help his side into an early 24-3 lead.
Crucially, Guyana clawed five points back just before the break when Hughston’s opposite number, Claudius Butts scored to give them a foothold in the match.
Guyana picked up where they left off after the re-start and lock Vallon Adams forced his way over for a try which Gonsalves converted to make the scoreline 24-15.
Guyana then lost winger Avery Corbin to a 57th-minute yellow card, but a Tom Snow penalty was all USA South had to show for their one-man advantage.
A few minutes after he’d returned to the field Corbin made amends for his sin-binning with Guyana’s third try before centre Theodore Henry’s try and Gonsalves’ subsequent conversion levelled the scores at 27-27 and took the match into overtime.
With play from both teams continuing to be scrappy and error-prone no further points were added until Gonsalves kept his nerve to win the match for Guyana.
Mexico finished on top of the North Zone Cup table with three consecutive wins after a dishing out a record 96-0 hammering to the Turks & Caicos Islands. They will now play a North division relegation/promotion decider against Bermuda, who lost both of their Championship matches.
Mexico ran in 16 tries, split evenly between the first and second halves, with centre Pascal Nadaud grabbing a hat-trick and scrum half Lucas Barbieri and wings Fharid Samano and Diego Ramirez getting a brace of tries apiece.
Jamaica finished runners-up to Mexico, with a 2-1 win/loss record, after winning 17-10 away to the Bahamas. As a result, Jamaica climb six places in the IRB World Rankings to 79th with the Bahamas down to 94th.
Barbados, who lost both their matches, will play table-topping Curacao in the South division relegation/promotion match.
NACRA Championship 2014 Results
28/6 USA South 27-30 (AET) Guyana; Bahamas 10-17 Jamaica; Mexico 96-0 Turks & Caicos
21/06 Curacao 41-12 British Virgin Islands; St Lucia 26-22 St Vincent & Grenadines
14/06 Cayman Islands 30-34 USA South
07/06 Guyana 15-8 Trinidad & Tobago; Bermuda 3-24 Cayman Islands; BVI 18-29 St Lucia; Jamaica 8-34 Mexico; St Vincent & Grenadines 12-19 Curacao
31/05 Bahamas 13-11 Turks & Caicos
24/05 Barbados 5-34 Trinidad & Tobago
17/05 Mexico 33-18 Bahamas; Guyana 48-19 Barbados; Turks & Caicos 6-10 Jamaica; St Vincent & Grenadines 24-22 BVI
10/05 Bermuda 6-33 USA South; St Lucia 7-56 Curacao
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