Fresh from competing in a Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament, Anthony Maatouk has landed the knockout blow to propel underdogs El Salvador to a heart-stopping victory in the GYG Latino Rugby League Nines.
Fullback Maatouk scored with 90 seconds left on the clock as El Salvador snatched an 18-16 result against reigning champion Chile.
Earlier in the day, the Salvadorans also beat the Chileans 10-6 in the qualifying rounds, in what marked Chile’s first-ever loss in the history of the tournament.
It was a nail-biting ride into the championship final, with El Salvador beating Brasil 14-8 in the semi-final after scores were level 4-all at halftime.
The performance also marked a significant improvement on El Salvador’s last appearance at the GYG Latino Nines, when a series of uncharacteristic errors and frustration saw them finish second-last.
This time around, however, they were purveyors of precision, displaying speed and attacking flair that all teams found difficult to contain.
To start the day they recorded a 20-4 win against Central American rivals Nicaragua, then shocked Chile, before launching into their finals assault.
Despite being without several key players, Chile could also hold their heads high after recovering from their early stumble to lead for most of the tournament final.
After Maatouk scored first, Chile wrestled back the lead with a try to thumping forward Brandon Tobar to go ahead 6-4.
El Salvador responded via the ever-competitive Alvaro Alarcon, then unstoppable Daniel Aguirre-Acevedo continued the tit-for-tat to move Chile in front 12-10 at the halftime break, thanks to Nick Doberer’s accurate boot.
With six minutes remaining Chile’s Tobar bounced over to make it 16-10 and El Salvador were up against the wall.
But summoning all the grit of their much-maligned mother nation, the Salvadorans took the game by the throat with two tries in just over two minutes to Player of the Tournament Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi and Maatouk.
Three years ago Chile and El Salvador became the first Latin American nations to face each other in a full 13-a-side match under international rules, laying the platform for other countries to follow.
On that occasion in June 2016, Chile won 58-20 and they have always held the wood on their rivals until now, which will surely add extra emotion to the triumph.
Across the board, the level of competition in this year’s GYG Latino Nines was incredibly even.
Uruguay was unlucky to suffer a raft of injuries to key players and finished 4th after losing 28-14 to Brasil in their semi-final, despite beating the Brasileiros 10-4 in qualifying.
Teenage whiz Nicolas Papa, youngest of the Papa trio, scored a brace in both his first two games wearing the Uruguay colours.
Similarly, Brasileiro youngster Dylan Nunes, who switched from fullback to half at the last minute after former international and Super Rugby player Dave Harvey withdrew with a back injury, scored 24 points from the day with four tries and four goals.
Runner-up at the last two Latino Nines, Peru finished bottom of Pool B after well-fought 20-12 and 14-4 losses to Uruguay and Brasil in a competitive draw.
The Peruvians saved some grace with a comprehensive 34-12 shellacking of Nicaragua in the consolation final.
In Nicaragua’s debut, they were left short-handed and outgunned, although team co-captain Michael Zamora-Rivera managed to post 12 of his nation’s 22 points for the event.
The event would not have been possible without the fantastic support of Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, SHIELD Security, Dr Pickles Tattoo Aftercare and All Saints Liverpool RLFC.
GYG Latino Nines 2019
All Saints RLFC, Hillier Oval, Liverpool, New South Wales
El Salvador 20 (Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi, Michael Alarcon, Anthony Maatouk, Rafa Mendoza tries; Fredy Arteaga, Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi goals) d Nicaragua 4 (Michael Zamora-Rivera try).
El Salvador 10 (Alvaro Alarcon, Miguel Gonzalez tries; Miguel Gonzalez goal) d Chile 6 (Alvaro Avaria Jimenez try; Nick Doberer goal).
Chile 36 (Bradley Millar, Jose Nitor-Alvear, Junior Sandoval, Mana Castillo-Sioni, Erick Lucero, Daniel Aguirre-Acevedo, Alvaro Avaria-Jimenez tries; Jose Nitor-Alvear, Junior Sandoval, Alvaro Avaria Jimenez, Daniel Aguirre-Acevedo goals) d Nicaragua 6 (Kevin Flores try, Jonathan Espinoza goal)
Uruguay 20 (Nicolas Papa 2, Diego Papa 2 tries; Diego Papa, Matt Cama goals) d Peru 12 (Jye Sommers 2 tries, Jye Sommers 2 goals).
Brasil 14 (Pedro Morais Pereira 2, Hector Hilberto tries; Dylan Nunes goal) d Peru 4 (Roy Lozano Razuri try).
Uruguay 10 (Nicolas Papa 2 tries, Matt Cama goal) d Brasil 4 (Dylan Nunes try).
Pool A – El Salvador 4pts (+20 for and against), Chile 2pts (+26), Nicaragua 0pts (-46)
Pool B – Uruguay 4pts (+14), Brasil 2pts (+4), Peru 0pts (-18)
5TH PLACE PLAYOFF
Peru 34 (Frank Altamirano, Jye Sommers, Luis Fhon, Roy Lozano Razuri, Paul Altamirano, George Altamirano tries; F Altamirano, J Sommers, P Altamirano, G Altamirano goals) d Nicaragua 12 (Jesse Morales*, Michael Zamora-Rivera tries; M Zamora-Rivera 2 goals).
*Player suspected of playing under incorrect name on team sheets
El Salvador 14 (Daniel Godinez 2, Miguel Gonzalez tries; Miguel Gonzalez goal) d Brasil 8 (Dylan Nunes, Hector Hilberto tries)
Chile 26 (Bradley Millar, Sergio Montenegro, Nick Doberer, Mana Castillo Sioni, Alvaro Avaria Jimenez tries; Nick Doberer 2, Daniel Aguirre Acevedo goals) d Uruguay 18 (Joel Smith 2, Matt Cama, Matty Booth tries; Matt Cama goal).
3rd PLACE PLAYOFF
Brasil 28 (Rodrigo Rezende 2, Dylan Nunes 2, Hector Hilberto tries; Dylan Nunes 3, Alexandre Alves goals) d Uruguay 14 (Julio Toledo, Ryan Kungl, Joel Smith tries; Ryan Kungl goal)
EL SALVADOR 18 (Anthony Maatouk 2, Alvaro Alarcon, Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi tries; Miguel Gonzalez goal) d CHILE 16 (Brandon Tobar 2, Daniel Aguirre-Acevedo tries; Nick Doberer 2 goals).
Player of the Tournament: Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi (El Salvador).