Uruguay extended their unbeaten run to 13 tests with a hard-fought 27-18 victory over Brazil in round two of the Americas Rugby Championship 2018 at the Estadio do Pacaembu in Sao Paulo on Friday.
However, Los Teros certainly didn't have it all their own way against a determined Brazilian side and needed 24 unanswered points to recover from an 18-3 deficit at half-time and make it two wins from two in the competition.
With the temperature still a balmy 28 degrees when the match kicked off at 20:10 local time, it was Brazil who started the brighter against the side sitting seven places above them in the World Rugby Rankings, full-back Lucas Tranquez hacking up field after a Uruguayan error to the delight of the home fans.
That attack may have come to nothing but within minutes Os Tupis were rewarded for their bright start when a solid scrum allowed centre Moises Duque to take play to the five-metre line, the ball being recycled for Josh Reeves to send winger Jacobus Wet van Niekerk over the line.
Fly-half Reeves, a standout player in their win over Chile last weekend, kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties before Germán Albanell, finding life hard in the unfamiliar position of scrum-half, finally opened Uruguay’s account with a penalty on the half hour mark.
Brazil were unfazed by that kick and instead increased their lead to 18-3 with five minutes to go to half-time after some quick hands from Duque and Tranquez enabled outside centre Felipe Sancery to dive over for their second try.
A game of two halves
A piece of cynical play by prop Jardel Vettorato saw him sin-binned just before the break but Brazil were worthy of their lead against a much-changed Los Teros side from that which had beaten Canada to claim the Americas 2 berth for Japan 2019 last weekend.
Some harsh words were clearly said in the Uruguay dressing room at half-time as they emerged a more determined side, making the most of their man advantage to score their first try of the night when hooker Germán Kessler dived over following a powerful driving maul.
That try gave Uruguay the momentum they had been searching for and as they began to dominant territory and possession Brazil found it hard to live with them. It took Uruguay until just after the hour mark, though, to get another try, second-row Diego Magno grounding the ball to cut the deficit to one point.
With both sides tiring in the heat and humidity it seemed only a matter of time before Uruguay would complete the comeback and so it proved with Manuel Diana’s break off a scrum resulting in a debut try for fellow replacement Tomas Inciarte.
Even then, Brazil had chances to score a third try of their own, number eight Andre Arruda unable to hold onto the ball as Os Tupis fought their way to within five metres of Uruguay’s line. In the end, they were denied even a losing bonus point thanks to Albanell’s penalty with the final kick of the game.
The second round continues on Saturday when Argentina XV welcome Chile to the world’s southernmost city Ushuaia and defending champions USA meet neighbours Canada in Sacramento.
Photo credit: João Neto - fotojump.com.br
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Americas Rugby Championship 2018 - Round 5
CHILE v CANADA: 17-33
URUGUAY v USA: 19-61
BRAZIL v ARGENTINA XV: 8-28