A 16-all halftime deadlock between Brasil Rugby League’s two most successful men’s teams ensured a gripping finale to the 2022 season at Sāo José dos Pinhais.
The final score was 28-16 in favour of home team Urutau (The Screaming Owls), who completed a defensive shut-out of reigning champions Sāo Paulo Raiders in a tense final 40 minutes.
It featured a redemption story for beanpole winger Adrian De Paula, who erased a tentative effort in his previous appearance to score the try which put Urutau ahead 20-16.
Surrounded by defenders on the flanks, rookie De Paula dived outstretched to plant the ball in what was only his second Rugby League try.
Incumbent national halfback Murilo Manzutti then slotted a sideline conversion to provide breathing space and the platform for victory.
Manzutti and hooker Lucas Domingues steadied the ship for the remainder of the game, with Sāo Paulo suffering from a rash of unforced errors and offside penalties as they attempted to claw back.
Earlier in the match the Raiders had posted first points on the board, when robust forward Lukas Gil was flung to the ground in a group tackle but managed to graze the tryline with the tip of the ball.
Both teams traded tries for the remainder of the half, with the most spectacular being when American Football convert Jefferson Martins scored for Urutau from the kick-off, the ball eluding Raiders receivers and bouncing straight into his arms before he powered through the last line of defence.
Australian-born Brazilian resident Zach Grundy moved from his usual five-eighth role to hooker for Sāo Paulo and that also paid dividends as he took several stealthy scoots and nabbed a try himself.
A healthy proportion of players from both teams will now enjoy representative duties, with Brasil playing a friendly against Argentina in Buenos Aires, before heading to the South American Championships on November 25-27 where they will play both Chile and Colombia.
Urutau has become the first Brazilian club to win multiple 13-a-side titles, adding to their 2019 championship. They also won this year’s pre-season nines tournament.
URUTAU 28 (Gabriel Polmonari, Victor Domingues, Jefferson Martins, Adrian De Paula, Lucas Domingues tries; Murilo Manzutti 4 goals) defeated SAO PAULO 16 (Lukas Gil, Jadson Santos, Zachary Grundy tries; Vinicius Hideo 2 goals) at Estadio Municipal Moacir Tomelin, Sāo José dos Pinhais.
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