By Robert Burgin
After failing to win a game in Brasil’s Nines Championship, Taubaté has opened the northern conference of the men’s 2021 regular season with a 38-30 win against Rio de Janeiro.
One of the most dedicated pockets of league exponents in Brasil, Taubaté were rewarded for their perseverance, surging to a 38-10 lead on home soil, before Rio Sharks finished with a flurry.
The win could have been even more convincing, had Taubaté not missed eight of their nine conversion attempts in an uncharacteristic kicking display.
When the two teams met earlier this year in the Nines Championships at São Lourenço it was Rio who finished on top – but only just, in a 6-4 result, before Rio progressed all the way to the tournament final.
Taubaté learnt from that experience and, under coach Rômulo Soler, continued to chip away at the strategy and fundamentals of the sport, studying from home during extended COVID lockdowns, paying a higher emphasis to maintaining possession.
Centre Maicon Keterres was an overwhelming vote for player of the match, while Antonio Rodrigues, Thales Pereira and Vinicius Alfer all finished the match with doubles for the victors.
Half José Victor had two tries and a goal for the defeated Sharks, while standout national player Felipe Dittz also found his way onto the scorecard.
The match was notable for the fact that Dani Lanfredi, a prospective female player who trialled for Brasil’s World Cup squad, took up one sideline as a touch judge.
It was the second game in two rounds of the men’s season where one of the touch judges was female, after Nikki Burton helped officiate in southern conference games between Maringá, Curitiba and Umuarama.
Another curiosity was Taubaté featuring a player from the Serbian domestic competition who had recently transferred to Brasil for work, displaying the game’s expanding frontiers.
BRL chief executive officer Hugo Fróes, who travelled 30-plus hours to help co-ordinate the first round of competition, returned in Round Two to act as centre referee for this encounter.
Round Three on October 9 will see newcomers Umuarama host undefeated Maringá in the southern conference, while Rio will host arch-rivals São Paulo Raiders in the northern conference.
TAUBATÉ 38 (Antonio Rodrigues 2, Thales Pereira 2, Vinicius Alfer 2, Maicon Keterres, Jonathan Patez, Yago Moreira tries; Maicon Keterres goal) beat RIO DE JANEIRO 30 (José Victor 2, Victor Gerhaim, Felipe Dittz, Marcos Paixão, Brendan Simon tries, Victor Gerhaim 2, José Victor goals) at Taubaté.
Referee: Hugo Fróes. Touch Judges: Dani Lanfredi, Daniel Chiovetti.