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Portugal and Georgia to contest REC 23 Grand Final

Portugal and Georgia will meet in the Rugby Europe men’s Championship final after they safely negotiated their semi-finals at the weekend.

On Saturday in the Estádio do Restelo in Lisbon, Portugal defeated Spain 27-10.

Spain took the lead through a penalty by their stand-off Gonzalo Vinuesa and things got even better for them when they went 10-0 ahead.

Their first try came in the 18th minute when second-row Joshua Peters went over from short range and Vinuesa converted.

It took Portugal until just before the half hour to get on the scoresheet, centre Rodrigo Mara going overt for a try with scrum-half Samuel Marques converting.

Spain led at half-time, but when they had a man in the sin bin Marques kicked a penalty to make it 10-10.

Portugal themselves then lost a man to a yellow card, but Marques’ second penalty made it 13-10.

With 12 minutes to go the game was still in the balance until Portugal scored a converted try.

The try came from a strong forward drive, replacement prop Duarte Diniz scoring it.

And with nine minutes to go Marques, later named Player of the Match, scored a conversion and a penalty to take his personal tally to 17 points.

Patrice Lagisquet, the Portugal head coach, said:  “I am happy because it is a victory, but I don’t know if we deserved to win by 17 points because in the first half we made too many errors.

“We will really have to be a lot better in the the final to have a chance against Georgia.”

Spain head coach Santiago Santos said:  “I am disappointed, in the first half we played quite well, but in the second half Portugal placed much better.

“We gave away possession in the second half while our discipline was not good and that was the difference.”

On Sunday in the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi, Georgia defeated Romania 31-7.

Georgia also won the Antim Cup which is played for between these two nations.

A penalty by stand-off Tedo Abzhandadze put Georgia 3-0 up early on.

By half-time they had extended that lead to 17-0, the first try coming when scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze set up skipper Merab Sharikadze to go over. It was converted.

Aleksandre Todua, the winger, scored the second try to give Georgia the comfortable lead after 40 minutes.

The first points in the second half came in the 54th minute when they were awarded a penalty try.

Romiania lost a man to the sin bin at the same time, but on the hour mark they scored a try while shorthanded.

Marian-Eugen Capatina, the replacement hooker, scored it while full-back Ionel Melinte converted.

Akaki Tabutsadze, the winger, rounded things off with a converted try late on for Georgia.

Sharikadze was named Player of the Match and his head coach Levan Maisashvili said:  “We played really well, we controlled the game.

“The final is the final, it is a one off game and we’ll have to play at our best.”

Eugen Apjok, the Romania head coach, said:  “Congratulations to Georgia on the win, but my boys gave me everything.

“We need to come back stronger and be focused for the last game.”

The bronze final and then the final will take place at the Estadio Nuevo Vivero in Badajoz, Spain, on March 19.

The bronze final and then the Grand Final will take place at the Estadio Nuevo Vivero in Badajoz, Spain, on March 19 at 17.15 and 20.00 CET.


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