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Portugal prepared for opener, Romania face World Champions

With week 2 of the Rugby World Cup on the horizon, Portugal is getting ready for their first game of the tournament, and there’s a good feeling in the “Lobos” camp. Patrice Lagisquet, Portugal’s head coach, spoke to us on the mentality and what to expect.

“We all dream of winning a game, but we have a very difficult pool with four teams very close to each other who will compete for the quarter-final. Our goal is to try to exist, cause some trouble, and let’s see what we can also do more.”

Portugal has an almost full clean bill of health, as Steevy Cerqueira and Thibault de Freitas are back to 100%. The only doubt is Samuel Marques, as AS Béziers-Hérault scum-half caught a minor injury on the thigh.

Still, captain Tomás Appleton revealed that Portugal can pinch their opponents in Pool C,

“I can’t reveal what we chose as a goal, as that’s a team secret, but I can say that we are going to do a lot of surprises, and you can expect good fun in our games.”.

Portugal will travel to Nice, where they will face Wales on Saturday at 5.45 pm (CET Time). It’s going to be their only second game against the Welsh, after a loss in 1994 for the 1995 Rugby World Cup qualification.

Romania will also go back to the pitch in the coming weekend, and after a hard match against Ireland, the 5 times European Nations/Rugby Europe Championship winners, are getting ready for the Springboks.

Romanian flanker Vlad Neculau was in awe with the reception in the Stade of Bordeaux,

“The Anthem was just wonderful with a lot of people around singing. It was an amazing and beautiful atmosphere that we won’t forget.”

Romania started their first match on the right foot, as Hinckley Vaovasa was able to punch through the Irish line and assist Gabriel Rupanu for the first try of the match. Unfortunately, the “Oaks” found it hard going after that opening score, with the number 1 team in the world running out clear winners, 82-8.

“Even if didn’t end like we wanted to, we looked them in the eyes. We had no fear. We told to ourselves that we would play until the last drop, and we did that. In the second half Ireland kept a higher pace, but we are proud of our first game.”

Romania will stay in Bordeaux for week 2 to face the title holders, South Africa, with the match set for the 17th at 3 p.m. (CET Time).

As for Georgia, the “Lelos” had a mixed game, as after a pale first 40 minutes they were able to come back in a good fashion, and score two tries against the Wallabies. Luka Ivanishvili and Beka Gigashvili were the try-scorers of the afternoon.  

Shalva Mamukashvili, who played almost the full 80 minutes against the Wallabies, shared a few words post-game,

“It’s a good lesson for us. It’s a good cold shower.”

As Georgia now goes for a one-week rest to lick their wounds and recover from a very physical match against Australia, the centurion hooker told us on what they’re focusing on next,

“The good news is we have two weeks until we play Portugal so we have time to work on our mistakes. We’ll show our best in the next three games. Now it begins. It’s not the end.”.

Georgia will wait now for Portugal, in replay of the 2023 Rugby Europe Championship final, to be played on the 22nd in Toulouse. 

In the other matches featuring European matches, France of course brought their ‘A-game’ against the All Blacks to please the home supporters, 27-13, while England defeated Argentina, Italy seeing off Namibia with a canny display and Wales saw off a spirited performance against Fiji, with Scotland tasting defeat against the South Africa.

By Francisco Isaac
Photo by Luis Cabelo

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