A stunning come from behind victory on Saturday saw the Guyana ‘Green Machine’ Men’s Rugby team take their first ever North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) 15’s title with a thrilling upset 30-27 win against defending champions, host USA South in the ‘sudden death’ stage of the encounter at the Life University Rugby Complex in Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia.
In windy conditions and watched by just over 100 spectators, Captain Ryan Gonsalves’ penalty kick broke the hearts of the American fans after the score was deadlocked on 27-27 at the conclusion of full and extra-time, which was divided into two 10-minute halves.
The South American unit clawed their way back into the game in dramatic fashion after the Guyana Captain had converted a penalty, following a Claudius Butts try at half time but at that stage the North Americans were in charge in their own backyard, enjoying a comfortable 16 point advantage at 28-4.
Another conversion from Gonsalves after a ‘try’ from the United States based Vallon Adams orchestrated a spirited Guyana second half fight back to increase their score and cut the deficit. However, the host team were still nine points in the lead.
But Butts and Adams never gave up and conspired to level the scores at 27-27 taking the contest into sudden death when the level-headed Gonsalves put the icing on the cake when USA South gave up a penalty to Guyana and he executed the kick in perfect fashion to send the gathering of Guyanese supporters at the venue into unbridled ecstasy as the visitors snatched a memorable victory from the jaws of defeat.
Meanwhile, USA South Coach David John Conyers said yesterday morning that waking up to the first taste of competitive defeat in three years with this team was not how we planned it.
Scot Harland, the match commissioner from the International Rugby Union (IRB), speaking Saturday night’s Dinner, paid tribute to the quality of the game, adding that N.A.C.R.A needs close matches. Harland also credited the ‘Green Machine’ with raising the standard of N.A.C.R.A rugby since Guyana’s involvement at this level three years ago. The IRB official praised the Guyanese for taking their culture and rugby style to the greater Caribbean.
“Thank you to both teams and management for an incredible display of how rugby should be done,” Harland concluded.
The triumphant Guyanese were scheduled to arrive home at 01:35hrs this morning after an in transit stopover in Trinidad.
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