Russia and Argentina 'A' win in Nations Cup
June 13, 2006

Argentina A and Russia recorded victories as the inaugural IRB Nations Cup made an entertaining debut in Lisbon on Tuesday evening.

Despite it being a public holiday in Portugal, a fair crowd were in attendance on an overcast afternoon and were treated to a feast of rugby as both matches were played back to back at the impressive Estadio Universitario.

The new competition, which is designed to provide an expanded calendar for Tier 1 A sides, while also providing certainty in terms of competitive rugby for Tier 3 Unions is a key element of the IRB's US $50 million global strategic investment programme, launched last August and designed to increase the competitiveness of the World Game and Rugby World Cup through a number of high performance, Union infrastructure and Tournament initiatives.

Argentina A 26, Italy A 11

Argentina A scored four tries to overcome Italy 26-11 in the opening match of the tournament, but Patricio Noreiga's side were pushed all the way by a spirited Italy side in what was an entertaining match.

In the end it was Argentina A's strength in the scrum and in the contact area that was to prove the difference between two sides who were both intent on playing attacking rugby.

Despite the scoreline, Italy A will take plenty of positives from their performance. They started particularly strongly and were just one point adrift entering the final quarter of the match, only to be undone by two tries within the last twenty-minutes.

Italy A had opened the scoring through fly half Lugano Orquera, who slotted over two first half penalties, but it was Argentina A who went into the interval in the lead after a Tomas De Vedia's score on the stroke of half time added to an earlier score by inside centre Hernan Senillosa to give them a 12-6 advantage.

Italy A came out of the blocks strongly after the interval, playing with much more purpose and composure and had much the better of the opening exchanges. However, it took until the 59th minute for the Italian's pressure to be converted into points when scrum half Pietro Travagli crossed for a try that hauled his side back to just one point adrift of Argentina.

However, that was as close as the Italians were to get as winger Horacio Agulla and lock Estaban Lozada scored tries to round off a satisfactory opening performance by Argentina.

Portugal 17, Russia 37

Russia produced the shock of the opening round in the IRB Nations Cup, defeating hosts Portugal 37-17 to go to the top of the standings.

The visitors, who finished one place behind Portugal in Division One of the FIRA-AER European Nations Cup, scored five tries in a victory that was based on a fine first half performance in an entertaining encounter at Lisbon's University Stadium.

Despite being roared on by a vociferous Lisbon support, the home side struggled to gain parity up front where the Russia had the better of the forward exchanges. However, Portugal did start brightly and forged ahead into a lead against the run of play when number eight and captain Vasco Uva touched down in the fourteenth minute for a converted try.

Slow to start, Russia clicked midway through the first half and scored three tries in a fifteen minute period to give the visitors a healthy lead from which they never looked back.

Openside flanker and captain Viacheslav Grachev scored Russia's first try, before lock Anrey Garbuzov and centre Sergey Trishin scored in rapid succession to silence the home support. A brace of conversions by Pavel Novikov helped the visitors to a 19-10 lead at the interval.

The second half was a rather more evenly contested affair. Pavel Novikov stretched Russia's lead with a penalty, but Portugal, playing with more confidence, were the first to cross the try line when blindside flanker Diobo Mateus crashed over for a converted try to reduce the deficit to just five points with six minutes left.

However, with time running out, the home side began to chase the game and errors allowed Russia to score two late tries through winger Pavel Novikov and Sergey Trishin to add gloss to the victory.

The IRB Nations Cup continues on Sunday when hosts Portugal face Italy A and Russia take on Argentina A in Round Two. The competition concludes on June 24 when Italy A face Russia and Portugal play Argentina A.

*Portugal's women defeated a South Africa's women's XV 15-8 earlier in the evening in the curtain-raiser match at Lisbon University earlier in the day.

Round One details

Italy A: 1, Daniel RODRIGUEZ, 2, Eusebio GUINAZU, 3, Pablo CARDINALI, 4, Esteban LOZADA, 5, Pablo BOUZA, 6, Augusto PETRILLI, 7, Agustin GUZMAN, , 8, Genaro FESSIA, , 9, Nicolas VERGALLO, , 10, Marcelo BOSCH, 11, Horacio AGULLA, 12, Pablo GOMEZCORA, 13, Hernan SENILLOSA, 14, Tomas DE VEDIA, 15, Bernardo STORTON, Reps: 16, Agustin COSTA REPETO, 17, Juan GOMEZ, 18, Jaime AROCENA, 19, Alvara GALINDO, 20, Lucio LOPEZ FLEMING, 21, Agustin DURAN. 22, Juan Ignacio GAUTHIER

Argentina A: 1, Michele RIZZO, 2, Luigi FERRARO, 3, Lorenzo CITTADINI 4, Tommaso REATO, 5, Valerio BERNABO, 6, David DAL MASO, 7, Aaron PERSICO, 8, Roberto MANDELLI, 9, Pietro TRAVAGLI, 10, Lugano ORQUERA, 11, Samuele PACE, 12, Matteo BARBINI, 13, Walter POZZEBON, 14, Marko STANOJEVIC, 15, Ludovic NITOLIA, Reps: 16, Flavio DAMIANO, 17, Luigi MILANI, 18, Antonio PAVANELLO, 19, Enrico PAVANELLO, 20, Gonzalo PADRO, 21, Gabriel PIZARRO, 22, Pino PAATELLI

Portugal: 1 Ruben CRISTIAN SPACHUK, 2 Joao CORREIA, 3 Joaquim FERREIRA, 4 ConCarlo UVA, 5 David PENALVA, 6 Diago COUTINHO, 7 Paulo MURINELLO, 8 Vasco UVA (captain, 9 Jose PINTO, 10 Duarte PINTO, 11 Frederico SOUSA, 12 Diobo MATEUS, 13 Miguel PORTEO, 14 Antonio AGUILAR, 15 Pedro LEAL, 16 Rui CORDEIRO, 17 Juan VARGAS, 18Manuel PEREIRA, 19 Eduardo ALOSTA, 20 Pedro CARVALHO, 21 Luis PISSARRA, 22 Aderito ESTEVES.

Russia: 1 Sergey NOVOSELOV, 2 Vladimir MARCHENKO, 3 Ivan PRISCHPENKO, 4 Valery FEDCHENKO, 5 Andrey GARBUZOV, 6 Kirill KUSHNAREV, 7 Viacheslav GRACHEV (Captain), 8 Vladislav KORSHUNOV, 9 Victor MOTORIN, 10 Alexey KOROBEYNIKOV, 11 Pavel NOVIKOV, 12 Sergey TRISHIN, 13 Yaroslav RECHNEV, 14 Alsexande, 15 GVOZDOVSKIY, Reps: 16 Valery IGNATEV, 17 Roman ROMAK, 18 Alexander KHROKIN, 19 Alexander VOYTOV, 20 Artem FATAKHOV, 21 Alexander SHAKIROV, 22 Yury KUSHNAREV, 23 Igor KLYUCHNIKOV

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