Brazil is one step closer to a potential debut appearance at a Rugby World Cup after it defeated Paraguay 35-22 in extremely hot conditions in São Paulo on Saturday afternoon. The date of the match and the kick-off time were anything but friendly from the perspective of the players. October is never a mild month in São Paulo and this past Sunday marked the start of daylight savings which meant the 1:30pm kick-off was actually 12:30pm. It was so hot that the Paraguayan captain asked the referee to stop the game for a water break in the first half.
Brazil played the better rugby and had firm control of the match in the first half but basic errors prevented the team from winning by such a margin that was looming after it had taken a solid lead in the first quarter. Brazil´s first try was arguably the best of the match as São José´s Erick Putim Cogliandro scored a brilliant solo try after he kicked over the Paraguayan defense, regathered and went over in the corner. Brazil´s early domination was followed by a try to Felipe Claro as the SPAC scrumhalf caught Paraguay off guard enabling him to score unopposed from the 22. Putim converted the try to make it 12-0 and it was achieved with ease as Brazil was able to make easy metres through playing with plenty of width. It also succeeded in getting metres through its forwards as Paraguay did little more than tackle in the first twenty minutes of the match.
Paraguay nonetheless hit back well by scoring a penalty through which made it 12-3 and already became a talking point after Putim had been off target with all but one of his multiple early opportunities. Brazil, though, was doing the talking in the strongest possible way as French based Brazilian centre, Moisés Duque went over for his country´s third try, again after Paraguay had been shown to have defensive problems. Putim landed the conversion and Brazil looked relaxed and proved to have lost focus as Paraguay scored a simple try as a number of Brazilian defenders could be seen to be jogging very slowly rather than get back in time to reform. The half time score of 19-10 meant it was still a match open for either side to win.
Paraguay started the secondhalf as the better side and was able to score the first try of the half after putting great pressure on the Brazilian defenders. Its unconverted try made the score 19-15 but the alarm bells did not need to be sounded as Putim scored his second try shortly thereafter and ran it around under the posts to ensure it would be a seven pointer. He then extended the lead with a penalty before being replaced by Lucas Tanque Duque. Putim´s substitution was injury enforced after an ugly collission saw him needing medial treatment and he was taken to hospital to have his nose and forehead properly looked at. Tanque added stability to Brazil and proved to be a superior goalkicker as he landed two penalties to ensure victory. Paraguay, nonetheless scored the final try as it lost by a respectable scoreline of 35-22.
Brazil played well overall but had some serious problems with ball control. Far too many basic handling errors were made as the game, particularly in the second half was dominated by knock-on´s. Brazil also had some interesting selections with some of the country´s most notable plaeyrs not starting in the match. Joining Tanque on the bench was Fernando Portugal while Daniel Gregg captained the team from flyhalf. Gregg had long been Brazil´s starting right winger. His move to flyhalf was successful but with Portugal on the bench Brazil was shown to have a defensive weakness which Paraguay exploited in scoring one of its tries. Portugal offered balance to the backline and was able to achieve good metres as a ball carrier. He should be starting at outside centre against Chile and Uruguay next May.