Saturday, October 11, 2014

RWC 2015: Uruguay Complete Qualification with win over Russia

After a twelve year drought Uruguay is to compete in a third Rugby World Cup. The South American country sealed the final place at the tournament with a home victory over Russia this afternoon in Montevideo. The hard-fought win saw Los Teros overcoming a first half deficit to score three unanswered tries in the second half and complete a 36-27 victory over the Eastern Europeans. The result means Uruguay will face Australia, England, Fiji and Wales in Rugby World Cup 2015 and be the only team to face England outside of London. 

In front of a packed Estadio Charrua in Montevideo Los Teros celebrated with euphoria as they completed a come from behind victory over Russia to qualify for a third Rugby World Cup. A record attendance of 14,000 supporters for a rugby match in the country underlined the increasing popularity of rugby in Uruguay and why Argentina hosting a World Cup has a lot to offer the region. In qualifying Uruguay took the last vacancy which means the Play-Off Winner spot in Pool A goes to a South American side and not a European. 

Uruguay was made to work for the win. The narrow one point loss in Krasnoyarsk meant that Russia was well placed midway through the match in Montevideo. With goalkickers Felipe Berchesi and Yury Kushnarev exchanging shots the teams were looking like heading into half time on level terms. Russia, though scored a late first half try with Aleksandr Lanushkin putting Russia ahead 17-12 at half time.

Having gone within inches of scoring early in the second half Russia opened the second half scoring with a penalty in the 44th minute. Uruguay, though made it a one point game with a well-taken try by outside centre Joaquín Prada who defeated three Russian defenders to score under the posts. Berchesi added the simple conversion to make it 20-19. 

Sustained pressure from Uruguay then saw the South Americans put a strange hold on the match as a mauling try from prop Alejo Coral put Los Teros six points ahead in the 56th minute. Russia looked to run the ball to hit back quickly but, instead, Uruguay got into good field position on the back of the pack getting the better of Russia who conceded penalties. 

From an attacking scrum scrumhalf Agustín Ormaechea picked up a loose pass from number 8 Alejandro Nieto but showed his quality as he ran past two defenders to score. Berchesi's conversion made it 33-20, giving Uruguay a notable late advantage which would require two tries from Russia to change the outcome. 

A chance appeared as with Uruguay down to 14 and Russia hot on attack fullback Vasily Artemyev crossed in the left corner. The vital conversion was landed from the touch line and made it a 33-27 game. With Russia back in with a chance in the final minutes Uruguay was able to hold off the pressure and go further ahead as Berchesi landed a simple conversion.

Russia attacked in overtime and threatened but Uruguay was able to , in the end, hold on and see it through to the final whistle. An ecstatic Estadio Charrua erupted in delight while the players were a mixture of smiles and tears in knowing that they had completed their mission. Castres veteran second-rower Rodrigo Capó Ortega (pictured to the left) demonstrated his feelings as he went down to his knees with teammates to comprehend what they had achieved. 

Ormaechea will now, like his father in 1999, play in a Rugby World Cup. The task awaiting Uruguay is not an easy one. Los Teros are to play on the opening weekend against Wales in Cardiff and then face Australia seven days later in Birmingham. From there Uruguay will have a nine day break before facing Fiji in Milton Keynes. The match is to be the easiest but it will be followed by a game against England in Manchester on October 10. 

Of the four opposition teams Uruguay has only faced one previously at a World Cup. In Rugby World Cup 2003 Uruguay faced England in the Australian hosted tournament. The match took place in Brisbane, just four days after Uruguay had won against Georgia in Sydney. Involved was Capó Ortega who could now set a record of playing in two Rugby World Cups twelve years apart.

September 20
Wales v Uruguay
September 27
Australia v Uruguay
October 06
Fiji v Uruguay
Milton Keynes
October 10
England v Uruguay

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