Saturday, April 18, 2015

CONSUR: Uruguay builds for World Cup with consecutive wins

Photo Rugby News
Uruguay's twelve year wait of returning to compete at a Rugby World Cup will come to a close this September. Los Teros are to play in arguably the toughest group in the history of the tournament when they face Australia, England, Fiji and Wales in Pool A. Preparation for the competition is underway with Uruguay currently involved in a series of home internationals. This afternoon in Montevideo Los Teros completed back-to-back wins in the South American Championship by defeating Brazil 48-9. It places Uruguay in a strong position in the competition but thoughts now turn to the USA who Uruguay will face on his coming Friday.  

Coming off a 77-3 win over Paraguay to open the South American Championship Uruguay was looking to build by winning well against Brazil. The final score of 48-9 was lop-sided but the theme of the performance of the home team in the post-match conference was directed at a need to improve as Uruguay did not play to it's potential. 

The second best South American rugby team was off it's game but still managed to win comfortably and, importantly, did not concede a try as was the case against Paraguay. Such performances will require scrutiny as Uruguay prepares for a highly-demanding Rugby World Cup campaign in which all of Australia, England, Fiji and Wales will punish errors. 

Indeed it was errors, many of which were unforced, which let Uruguay down against Brazil. The Uruguayan team to take the field at the World Cup will be altered. Looking to experiment headcoach Pablo Lemoine made ten changes from the side that faced Paraguay with back-rower Diego Magno captaining his country for the first time. 

Thoughts now turn to the USA whom Uruguay will host this coming Friday at the Old Christians Club. The match is the first of a three-match South American tour in which the North Americans will also play Argentina twice. The method of play employed against the USA will serve as explanatory as to how Lemoine wants his team playing at the World Cup. 

The performance against Brazil was one showcasing an intent to attack. Uruguay looked to play with dynamic rugby by using width, a fast pace at he breakdown and recycling the ball through the hands. Such an approach mirrored that utilized against Paraguay. The difference was that Brazil was better prepared to counter and thus caused Uruguay problems. 

Uruguay's strong start which saw winger Jerónimo Etcheverry slotting a second minute penalty was nullified straight away as Brazil made it a 3-3 match in the early stages. Mistakes followed before a frustrated Uruguay accelerated play ad crossed for the opening try in the 17th minute scored by fly half Manuel Blengio. To the surprize of those in attendance Brazil hit-back with effect to score two penalties and with it hold a 9-8 lead after 29 minutes. 

Uruguay's players, though, found their feet and would not conceed any further points. Fullback Rodrigo Silva went over for Uruguay's second try late in the opening half. With Etcheverry's conversion again on target Uruguay was 18-9 ahead and looking forward to starting the second half as it finished the first. 

With greater control and execution in the second half Uruguay was able to find a lot of the answers missing in the opening 40 minutes. Blengio landed penalties to seal the result before Uruguay ran away with the result in the final quarter. A double from replacement outside back Santiago Gilberanu and tries to scrumhalf Alejo Duran and replacement fly half Agustín Alonso saw Uruguay finishing well on top. 

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