2015 Rugby World Cup
Uruguay comeback seals World Cup spot
ESPN Staff
October 12, 2014
Outside half Felipe Berchesi scored 21 points as Uruguay qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Uruguay v Russia, World Cup qualifier, Charrua Stadium, Montevideo October 11, 2014
Felipe Berchesi was the hero in Uruguay's second-half comeback © Getty Images

Uruguay will join England, Wales, Australia and Fiji in Pool A of the 2015 Rugby World Cup after a second-half salvo saw them beat Russia 36-27 in the second-leg of their play-off to set up a 57-49 aggregate victory.

Tries from Joaquin Prada, Alejo Corral and Agustin Ormaechea and a 21-point haul from Felipe Berchesi took them to victory at Charrua Stadium in Montevideo.

It will be the third time Uruguay have played at a World Cup after appearances in 1999 and 2003, but they had to come back from 17-12 down at half-time to get there.

Russia crossed the whitewash twice themselves, through Alexander Ianushkin and Vasily Artemyev, while Yuri Kushnarev kicked 17 points, but they fell just short.

After the first leg, which Russia edged 22-21 in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, last week, early indications were this was going to be another tense affair as Berchesi and Kushnarev fought an intense kicking duel.

They split the posts with four penalties apiece before Russia, who are coached by Raphael Saint-Andre - brother of France boss Philippe, struck the first body blow in first-half stoppage time.

Kushnarev made in incisive break on the left and put his half-back partner Ianushkin over in the corner, before missing the conversion in the 42nd minute.

It was a score that was against the run of play, with Uruguay time after time failing to make the most of their supremacy up front.

2015 Rugby World Cup pools

  • Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, Uruguay
  • Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Japan, USA
  • Pool C: NZ, Argentina, Tonga, Georgia, Namibia
  • Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Romania

Their pack had the edge at both the scrum and breakdown, but their failure to turn that pressure into tries was the difference as Russia took a 17-12 lead at half-time - with Berchesi missing a chance to cut the deficit to two points just before the interval.

Kushnarev added another penalty for the visitors, before there was finally some joy for Uruguay with ball in hand in the 47th minute.

Centre Prada picked it up from just outside the Russian 22 and his mazy sprint beat three players - including a delightful step inside past Kushnarev - on his way over the whitewash, although questions have to be asked about the sloppy tackling from Russia.

Berchesi added the conversion to cut the visitors' lead to a single point.

Two tries in nine minutes then put Uruguay in front, with prop Corral finally making the hosts' advantage up front count by crashing over off a maul in the 56th minute, before scrum-half Ormaechea (65) exposed more pitiful Russian tackling.

The reliable Berchesi kicked both conversions to give Uruguay a 33-20 lead going into the final 15 minutes. But Russia, down to 14 men after Denis Simplikevich was sent to the sin-bin for a late aerial tackle, set up a thrilling finish when full back Artemyev found a way over in the corner with just three minutes remaining.

Kushnarev kicked the conversion to cut the deficit to six points, but Berchesi had the final word with another penalty late on to give Uruguay an aggregate score of 57-49 over the two legs.

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