What the Scores Won’t Tell You

What the Scores Won’t Tell You

THE FINAL scores don’t tell you Chile held Poland scoreless for 32 minutes. They don’t tell you El Salvador could have led 18-12 shortly before halftime. They don’t reveal how Uruguay earnt repeat set after repeat set in a willing first 20minutes.

Nor will the scores have told you how many opposing players from Saturday’s Rugby League Revolucion have been friends for years; part of a movement for emerging nations rugby league that is gathering momentum faster than they could imagine.

Indeed, Liverpool’s Hillier Oval was littered with Chileans in earnest discussion with Africans, Salvadorans tasting Hungarian food, Uruguayans keen to hear how rugby league is progressing in Thailand, Poles and Peruvians shaking hands and talking about the scorching heat.

If you just read the simplified, condensed numbers from this pre-season extravaganza of international footy, you miss all of this.

And it’s those not-so-small mercies that will keep the Latin American teams going as they look to the future.

Chile walked away 0-56 losers to Poland, El Salvador fell 12-32 to Thailand, Uruguay went down 4-50 against Hungary, Peru was outmatched 10-68 by Africa United, the Incas were beaten 0-48 by Sydney University and the combined Latin Heat under 17s lost a tight match 18-26 against Africa United’s under 17s.

There were some sore, dehydrated bodies in the dressing sheds afterwards, but there was also a special unity formed by many of these teams creating history.

Typical of Latinos, there was also a fierce sense of defiance.

Most of all, they respected the better opposition had won on the day, willingly admitting they were outmatched by teams that trained harder, gelled better and deserved a day of jubilation in victory.

There’s no denying that the Polish, Hungarians, Thais and Africans will leave their mark on the rugby league landscape in the years to come.

At the same time, you would find it hard to say it was a negative day for Uruguay, a nation of just 3 million people, who made their debut in 13-a-side international footy, all heritage-verified, playing under limited interchange rules.

The Gauchos trailed just 4-0 after 22 minutes in their clash against Hungary, through an opening period where both teams matched it head-to-head.

But then Hungary’s superior fitness and the skill of the four Farkas brothers – Nathan, Aaron, Jared and David – rose to the fore.

The Bulls scored four converted tries at the end of the first half and skipped clear to an unassailable lead.

You could say “that’s all she wrote”, except the Uruguayans played tough until the end, with hooker Nicholas Cama earning one of the loudest cheers of the event when he bounced over from dummy-half to score.

A large and encouraging crowd was one of the lasting memories of the day, with Latino music pumping from the DJ, and a no-alcohol edict seemingly not diminishing festivities.

El Salvador put on one of the more spirited performances of the afternoon against a Thailand team overseen by NRL guru Brian Smith.

The tiny Central American nation of 6 million people faced up against a side representative of 67 million residents.

In the process, the Salvadorans became the first Latin American side to play in multiple 13-a-side fixtures, following up a tough loss to Chile in 2016.

New dad Alvaro Alarcon posted two tries and earnt praise from journalists in attendance as he continued a fantastic streak of form.

Alarcon could have enjoyed a hat-trick of tries for the day, but was called back on a runaway effort in the first half for a contentious push in the back.

Not long after, El Salvador dropped the ball out wide when crossing for another prospective try. Had they converted both opportunities, they would have led 18-12 at the 30-minute mark.

While Thailand thoroughly deserved the win, another lost ball over the tryline at the start of the second half by the otherwise unblemished Miguel Gonzalez gave assurance it was a closer affair than numbers indicate.

Chile, for the past three years the powerhouse of Latin American league, also suffered a humbling that was difficult to fathom in its depth.

For although Poland were by far the stronger outfit, the Chileans ran some impressive plays and played an up-tempo game that showed they still have plenty to offer.

There was no denying the Polish goal-line defence was a standout feature of the day.

The Chileans themselves had a period between the 29th and 61st minutes where they repelled all opposition attack, but unfortunately it was punctuated either side by the floodgates opening.

Poland scored four tries in 11 minutes at one stage in the first half, and five tries in 13 minutes in the second half.

A major reason for that happening was the loss of Chilean fullback and captain James Horvat to a serious shoulder injury in the opening minutes.

Substitute hooker Jaxson Uzabeaga and second rower Ben Fisher both had to spend time at fullback as a result, with neither having the required pace to shut down Poland once they broke the first line.

The Chileans were also frustrated by four of their biggest forwards being unavailable for the match, but in fairness Poland also had higher-level players they were unable to call upon for the contest.

If anything, the positive to come from it was the new-found depth enjoyed by both nations, who found a host of new players eligible to wear their colours.

Peru had a stark awakening to the realities of international football when they faced the growing juggernaut that is Africa United.

Making their full international debut, the Peruvians struggled to put 17 players on the field after a rash of withdrawals and found themselves behind 44-0 at halftime to their highly physical rivals.

To their credit though, the Peruvians scored the final two tries of the game, both coming from the boot of the smallest player on the field, skilful halfback Jacob Parker Julca.

Earlier in the day, the Rugby League Revolucion started the first of its six games with a fantastic under 17s contest between Latin America and Africa United.

The Latinos led 18-10 at one stage through some slick ball movement against the much bigger Africans, but were pipped at the post.

Hulking forward Saidu Samura scored two tries in the final three minutes of the game as Africa United roared back to clinch victory 26-18.

In an exhibition match, Sydney University accounted for a special Incan composite team, comprised of players with ties to the Tawantinsiyu people.

Highlights for the Incas in a big loss were the front-on defence of half Sebastian Martinez and the willing farewelll performance of Latin Heat veteran Rodney Garcia.

Sydney Uni fielded a highly multicultural team of its own, featuring players with Russian and Japanese heritage, among others.



February 4, 2017 at Hillier Oval, Liverpool, New South Wales

POLAND 56 (Jayden Zeklezniak 2, Mitch Shaw 2, Jordan Owen 2, Ethan Niszczot, Cheyne Pike, Zac Pitt, Alex Kowalski, Jaydon Sienkiewicz tries; Matt Hastie 6 goals) d CHILE 0. Halftime: Poland 30-0.

THAILAND 32 (Suhttirak Choengkhiri 2, Scott Stapleton 2, Don Boonkhit, Joseph Halpin, Dangmo Chimpla tries; Chris Twigg 2 goals) d EL SALVADOR 12 (Alvaro Alarcon 2 tries; Miguel Gonzalez 2 goals). Halftime: Thailand 22-6.

HUNGARY 50 (Brent Varga 2, Nathan Farkas 2, Aaron Farkas, David Farkas, Ryan Nemeth, Karoly Acsai, Josh Institoris tries; Aaron Farkas 6, Jared Farkas, Stephen Nemeth goals) d URUGUAY 4 (Nicholas Cama try). Halftime: Hungary 28-0.

AFRICA UNITED 68 (Job Baboth 3, Fairouz Elkander 2, Mun Mapiou 2, Bevan de Vries 2, Joel Tubbs, Frederick Solo, Seth Buckley, Yibeltal Campbell, Jonathan Saweris tries; Bevan de Vries 4, Jordan Adebumowa, Gerald Dzirutwe goals) d PERU 10 (Issac Guerin 2; Frank Altamirano goal). Halftime: Africa United 44-0.

SYDNEY UNIVERSITY 48 (Jay Parker 3, Tyson Wade 2, Kazuki Fukushige, Ahmed Yatim, Anthony Jury, Mounir Daghestani tries; Adam Vrahnos 5, Ahmed Yatim goals) d INCAS 0. Halftime: Sydney University 26-0.

AFRICA UNITED UNDER 17S  26 (John Kwiah 2, Saidu Samura 2, Ezekial Adenako tries; Samuel Karwhin 3 goals) d LATIN HEAT UNDER 17s  18 (Jayziah Calderon, Frank Altamirano, Timathy Gonzalez, Moo Doh tries; Diego Papa goal). Halftime: Latin Heat 12-10.


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