Written by European Rugby League
El Salvador met Japan for both nation’s first Senior International Fixture in Sydney, serving up a closely fought battle.
Michael Maatouk wrote his name into the El Salvador Rugby League history books, scoring his nation’s first international try just six minutes into the encounter, with Dario Rodriguez adding the conversion.
Japan were soon off the mark as Ken Szeremeta barged his way over with Reiji Sano levelling with the conversion. Sano missed his mark shortly afterwards as Yuki Mochizuki found his way to the try line out wide to move Japan ahead.
But El Salvador hit back as Rodriguez broke away for a try of his own, adding the conversion. El Salvador looked like they were hold the lead at the break before Travis Dury jinked through to beat the hooter to make it 12-14 at half time.
Tai Hooper started the second half as it at ended for Japan with a further score, but with Sano unable to add the extras El Salvador remained within range and it took just three minutes for Maatouk’s try and a further Rodriguez conversion to level the scores once more.
Szeremeta added his second, which Sano converted to again move Japan in front. As tempers boiled over, both sides found themselves short of players as players served their time in the sin bin.
Captain Alvaro Alarcon crossed for El Salvador and Rodriguez’s boot again levelled the scores, but Japan had the final word as Sano slotted a penalty goal which proved to the be difference betwen the two sides, with the final score 24-26 to Japan.
“El Salvador versus Japan in a fully sanctioned international was the pinnacle of a fantastic day that celebrated multiculturalism in Rugby League” noted Daniel Godinez, El Salvador Rugby League’s Australian representative.
“Whilst we didn’t get the result we expected, this match has set the foundation for a strong future for El Salvador. Our men will learn from this and look forward to the rematch. We would like to thank Japan for the opportunity to play against such a talented and persistent team.”