A back and forth battle in Vancouver saw Los Teros making history this evening. Uruguay won 38-29 in Vancouver to march towards RWC 2019. With game 2 taking place next Saturday in Montevideo the South Americans go in with a 9-point advantage. Canada must win by 10 or more to secure the Americas 2 spot.
Uruguay had a dream start, scoring in the opening minute. The try was scored from fullback Rodrigo Silva. The same player also made it possible with a well directed up-and-under. Fly half Connor Braid was unable to control it which saw quick play from Los Teros and Silva dancing through the defense. Felipe Berchesi made it 7-0 by landing the conversion.
Canada had been rattled. It was evident in the 5th minute when Canada turned-down a shot at goal to kick for the corner. The men in red drove forward from the line-up and won a second penalty. Lacking patience they again kicked for the corner only for Phil Mack to pass a loose ball into touch.
Similar occurrences took place throughout, though when Canada did string together play they impressed. It took Canada 19 minutes to open their account. Sustained pressure resulted in Taylor Paris attracting three defenders before passing to Evan Olmstead who scored on the right flank. Connor Braid landed the conversion. Three minutes later Braid made it 10-7 with a penalty.
Dominating possession, Canada went over for their second try minutes later. Scoring was DTH van der Merwe who ran a supporting line to score under the posts. Replays questioned the score with Ben LeSage appearing to have passed forward to van der Merwe.
With Canada in firm control Uruguay needed a change in fortunes. A 29th minute penalty miss from Berchesi kept it at 17-7 but with rhythm following from Uruguay a second try was scored. Strong work from Nicolás Freitas and Rodrigo Capó Ortega lay the way for sustained phases to be played. Canada were sucked in as Santiago Arata quickly passed. Canada’s were sucked in, enabling Leandro Leivas to dart over in the right corner.
A piece of trivia for years to come saw Silva kicking an up-and-under so high that it hit the roof. Uruguay were awarded a scrum from where the kick was taken. Time was up but Uruguay won a penalty and were given time to kick for into the Canadian 22. A well-taken line-out saw Los Teros’ forwards advance. Arata then spun the ball before he, himself, spotted a gap and gracefully pounced to score under the posts. Berchesi landed the conversion to give Uruguay a 21-17 lead at the interval.
Canada came out blasting to open the second half. Mounting penalties combined with Canada threatening to break the defense led to a 47th minute penalty try. Uruguay were also made to pay for their lack of discipline at the time as German Kessler was yellow carded. It restored Canada’s lead.
The one-man advantage ought to have given Canada the upper hand. Instead Uruguay would score. With Arata organizing his forwards well the use of width at the right time saw Nicolás Freitas feeding Ignacio Dotti. The second-row busted through to score in the left corner. The well-taken try was given despite questions over the pass from Freitas.
Veteran Rodrigo Capó Ortega pilled the pressure on Canada to score minutes later. His pick-and-go drive from close range would put Uruguay comfortably ahead. Berchesi converted both tries, remarkably doing so during a period in which Uruguay was playing with 14 men.
With the teams back to 15 per team Canada returned to playing the better rugby. Uruguay were penalized frequently over a period of 10 minutes before Canada would turn it into points. Center Nick Blevins worked his way over Berchesi to score in the left corner. The 70th minute score set up a thrilling finish.
Having missed four earlier attempts, Berchesi successfully landed a 75th minute penalty. With it Uruguay held a 38-29 lead with five minutes remaining. Canada had a late change at scoring but Uruguay’s defense held firm.
Tries – E. Olmstead (18’), D. van der Merwe (24’), Penaltry try (46’), N. Blevins (71’)
Cons – C. Braid 2/2 (19’, 25’), P. Mack 0/1
Pens – C. Braid 1/1 (22’)
Tries – R. Silva (1’), L. Leivas (31’), S. Arata (40’), I. Dotti (51’), R. Capó Ortega (56’)
Cons – F. Berchesi 5/5 (2’, 32’, 40’, 52’, 57’)
Pens – F. Berchesi 1/5 (75’)
Yellow cards – G. Kessler (46’)
1 Hubert Buydens (17 Djustice Sears-Duru 58’), 2 Ray Barkwill (16 Benoît Pifféro 58’), 3 Jake Ilnicki, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Josh Larsen (20 Lucas Rumball 64’), 6 Evan Olmstead, 7 Matt Heaton (19 Admir Cejvanovic 76’), 8 Tyler Ardron, 9 Phil Mack (21 Gordon McRorie 72’), 10 Connor Braid (22 Patrick Parfrey 32’), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Nick Blevins, 13 Ben LeSage, 14 Jeff Hassler (23 Brock Staller 20’-29’), 15 Taylor Paris
Not used: 18 Cole Keith
1 Mateo Sanguinetti (17 Matías Benítez 68’), 2 Germán Kessler (16 Carlos Pombo 67’), 3 Mario Sagario (Juan Echeverría 67’), 4 Ignacio Dotti, 5 Rodrigo Capó Ortega (19 Manuel Leindekar 58’-61’, 64’), 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara (capt.) (7 Franco Lamanna 68’-72’), 7 Franco Lamanna (16 Carlos Pombo 48’-58’) (20 Rodolfo Garese 64’), 8 Alejandro Nieto, 9 Santiago Arata (21 Agustín Ormaechea 59’), 10 Felipe Berchesi, 11 Nicolás Freitas, 12 Andrés Vilaseca, 13 Juan Manuel Cat (23 Joaquín Prada 68’), 14 Leandro Leivas (22 Gastón Mieres 61’), 15 Rodrigo Silva
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistants: Kurt Weaver (USAR) & Derek Summers (RFU)
TMO: Marc Nelson (USAR)
Attendance: 16, 132