Asia Rugby Championship 2017 Div 3 , what will arguably be one of the tightest championships in the history of Asia Rugby, Lebanon triumphed in the Division III West Championship today at Dustlik Stadium in Tashkent with a hard fought 24-24 draw with hosts, Uzbekistan.
Both teams entered the final round robin match with an eye on the crown after earlier results saw Uzbekistan draw with Iran 13-13 and Lebanon edging Iran with a final minute penalty kick from the sideline to clinch a 25-24 victory. And with 20 minutes left in the final match, it looked all but certain that Lebanon had the title in their hands as they controlled the game and the score board leading 24-10 through tries to Touma, El Chami and Bachour.
This control looked ever-more assured a couple of minutes later as Uzbekistan’s centre, Rustam Namirov received a second yellow card forcing the home team to play the final 17 minutes with 14 men. However, the numerical disadvantage seemed to spur the home side out of their slumber as they scored two quick consecutive tries by Bogachkin and Akramov and level the scores at 24-24 with 7 minutes left in a tense finish.
With the home crowd becoming more and more vociferous, Lebanon, through their captain Karim Jammal steadied the ship, kicking the ball long at every chance and played the game in the Uzbekistan half limiting the home sides attacking chances as they looked to defend stoically, knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch the title.
As the final whistle blew, Lebanon erupted in triumph, satisfied with the result, but not with the quality of rugby on display as they knew that they nearly squandered an almost unassailable lead.