Portugal qualify for the RWC'07
March 24, 2007

Portugal made history on Saturday after qualifying for their first-ever Rugby World Cup with a narrow aggregate victory over Uruguay.

The Lobos were beaten 18-12 by their South American hosts in the second leg of their repechage clash in Montevideo but thanks to their 12-5 victory over Los Teros in the first leg in Lisbon they claimed a 24-23 overall victory.

Their reward for seeing off Uruguay at the Estadio Parque Central de Club Nacional is a spot alongside New Zealand, Scotland, Italy and Romania in Pool C at this year's global showpiece.

Portugal's qualification completes the Rugby World Cup field and brings to a close the RWC 2007 qualification process which began when Andorra played Norway in September 2004. In total 86 countries have participated in 192 matches.

Uruguay may have maintained their excellent home record by winning the match but that will be of little consolation with the margin of victory leaving them agonisingly short of a place at Rugby World Cup 2007.

The result will also be sweet revenge for Portugal who were beaten heavily the last time they met Uruguay in the Repechage back in 1999 as Los Teros won convincingly to take a 46-9 advantage into the second leg in Lisbon en route to their Rugby World Cup debut.

As for the game, the visitors' task was made easier when Uruguay lock Juan Bado was sent off in the opening minuntes of the game for foul play.

However the hosts rallied and a brace of penalties from Juan Menchaca and Diego Aguirre edged them towards their target before they were pegged back by two penalties from Duarte Pinto and Joao.

Portugal's chances were dealt a blow just before half time when lock Marcelo Dorey was sin-binned and Uruguay capitalised after the break with the first try of the game from winger Martin Crosa.

But Portugal were not prepared to let their World Cup dream end and two further penalties from Pinto gave them a narrow one point lead.

The dominant Uruguay pack conjured a try for lock Rodrigo Capo as the game entered the last quarter of an hour and the conversion from fullback Menchaca brought them to within one point of securing a valuable World Cup berth.

Despite further pressure the home side were unable to breakdown the determined Portugal defence and the final whistle ended their hopes and sparked jubilation amongst the battle-weary Europeans.

Portugal will play Scotland in their first ever Rugby World Cup match at St Etienne on 9 September.

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