Uruguay came back from a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat Brazil 27-18 in São Paulo on Friday evening. The win saved embarrassment for Los Teros after earning World Cup qualification just a week ago and ended Brazil’s five-match undefeated run at Pacaembu.
Los Teros were firm favorites to overturn Brazil in the second round of the Americas Rugby Championship but it was not smooth sailing. Instead an erratic performance saw Uruguay produce a nightmare opening half and left them down 18-3 after the first 40 minutes.
Uruguay threatened early. Center Juan Manuel Cat broke clean once and a second time drove into the Brazilian 22. The attack come unstuck as one of many handling early errors saw possession handed over to Brazil. Lucas Tranquez put in a soccer kick which resulted in a freak bounce and drove Uruguay back over 80 meters.
Brazil took full advantage of Uruguay’s inaccuracy. The opening try of the match came from left winger De Wet van Niekerk. A simple move saw him latching onto an inside pass from Josh Reeves and diving over. Reeves converted to give Brazil a 7-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes.
The strong start from the home side was underlined in the 24th minute. Reeves landed a penalty to give Brazil a 10-0 lead. His penalty came from a late hit from Uruguayan hooker Germán Kessler on van Niekerk, a result of frustration as Los Teros’ error-ridden performance continued. Four minutes later Reeves struck again. This time the penalty came following Uruguay being put under pressure in a scrum.
A penalty against Jardel Vettorato gave Uruguay an opportunity to open their account. German Albanell landed his first attempt though it would not turn around the performance for Los Teros. Instead Felipe Sancery crossed for an excellent team try, putting Brazil 18-3 up. Reeves missed the conversion.
Uruguay had a late opportunity for opening half points. Brazil lost Vettorato to a yellow card for a professional foul yet with Uruguay kicking for touch rather than goal the teams would go into half-time with Brazil in firm control.
A 50-meter advance from Uruguay opened the second half. The promising attack ended with a lapse of concentration from Ignacio Dotti who dropped the ball cold. A similar raid followed minutes later and this time Uruguay were awarded a penalty and kicked for the corner. Dotti caught the throw-in and set up a maul, from which Kessler barged over to silence the São Paulo crowd.
Albanell landed the conversion before Uruguay quickly got to work to fight back further. A lengthy period of Uruguayan promise saw Los Teros repeatedly turning over possession from poor handling. Eventually the advancing Teros would get it together. It culminated in veteran Diego Magno scoring from a pick-and-go. Albanell landed the conversion to make it 18-17.
A clean break through the middle from flanker Cléber Dias had Brazil closing in on their third try. Uruguay’s defensive woes were again exposed. Ultimately captain Juan Manuel Gaminara saved the day by getting in over the ball to win a defensive penalty.
It proved to be decisive. Not only was Brazil’s chance at confirming victory ended but it gave Uruguay an opportunity to take the lead. Crossing at the other end of the field was replacement back Tomás Inciarte, who scored on debut after the Tupis were guilty of stopping play before the referee’s whistle. Albanell made it a 24-18 scoreline.
Albanell’s penalty on full-time cruelly took Brazil out of bonus point range and brought a close to an entertaining game, though both coaches will likely be disappointed with the result.
Uruguay have now secured 13 consecutive test victories dating back to their first round loss to the USA in San Antonio during last year’s ARC. Los Teros host the Argentina XV in Maldonado next weekend while the Tupis travel north to Canada.
Tries – D. van Niekerk (10’), F .Sancery (35’)
Cons – J. Reeves 1/2 (11’)
Pens – J. Reeves 2/2 (23’, 28’)
Yellow cards – J. Vettorato (38’)
Tries – G. Kessler (46’), D. Magno (63’), T. Inciarte (72’)
Cons – G. Albanell 3/3 (47’, 64’, 73’)
Pens – G. Albanell 2/2 (30’, 80′)
1 Lucas Abud (17 Michel Gomes 64’), 2 Yan Rosetti (capt.), 3 Jardel Vettorato (18 Wilton Rebolo 48’), 4 Gabriel Paganini, 5 Lucas Piero (20 Matheus Daniel 64’), 6 Arthur Bergo (18 Wilton Rebolo 43’-48’), 7 Cléber Dias, 8 André Arruda, 9 Laurent Bourda-Couhet, 10 Josh Reeves, 11 De Wet van Niekerk, 12 Moisés Duque, 13 Felipe Sancery, 14 Robert Tenório (23 Ariel Rodrigues 64’), 15 Lucas Tranquez
Not used: 16 Endy Willian, 19 Michael Moraes, 21 Will Broderick, 22 Lucas Muller
1 Mateo Sanguinetti (16 Matías Benítez 68’), 2 Germán Kessler (17 Carlos Pombo 60’), 3 Mario Sagario (18 Juan Echeverría 60’), 4 Ignacio Dotti, 5 Diego Magno (19 Diego Ayala 68’), 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara (capt.), 7 Rodolfo Garese (21 Gonzalo Soto 60’), 8 Alejandro Nieto (20 Manuel Diana 60’), 9 Germán Albanell, 10 Andrés De León (22 Tomás Inciarte 68’), 11 Gastón Mieres, 12 Agustín Della Corte, 13 Juan Manuel Cat, 14 Joaquín Prada, 15 Rodrigo Silva
Not used: 23 Manuel Blengio
Referee: Federico Anselmi (UAR)
Assistants: Murilo Bragotto (CBRu) & Cauã Ricardo (CBRu)
TMO: Xavier Vouga (CBRu)