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Russia back in action with home match against Portugal

The Rugby Europe 2021 continues in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Saturday

Russia will be back in Rugby Europe Championship action for the first time since March when they host Portugal on Saturday.

The Russians last outing was a 23-6 home reverse to Georgia who have since been crowned champions for 2021.

Earlier on in the year the Russian team had defeated Romania 18-13 and they will want to return to that form for this match against the Portuguese and for their other remaining games.

In-form Portugal will arrive at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in fine fettle having defeated Spain 43-28 at the end of March and then seen off the Netherlands 61-28 in Amsterdam last weekend.

That has left them second in the table currently, but with a number of countries still having games to play there is a lot of water still to go under the bridge before the standings are finalised.

However, an away win against Russia would certainly show that Portugal mean business when it comes to trying to gain Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification.

Russia head coach Lynn Jones said:  “People will judge our performance by what they see on Saturday. To get better than everyone else, we need to play more, that's why the Russian national team desperately needs any games.

“On Saturday, we will play only our fourth match in 16 months. That's why everyone was very disappointed that our game against Spain was postponed. Even if we take into account the problems with Covid, we had a good team, we were very well prepared and tuned. The match in Spain was supposed to lead us into the match against Portugal. 

“The first 20 minutes on Saturday will not be easy for us, the players will need to get used to the pace, the intensity and the heat.”

Patrice Lagisquet, the Portugal head coach, said:  “In order to control the game against Russia the time will have to be strong in the set piece.

“The pack that we will have in Russia is stronger than the one we had against Spain, for example. We need to focus on winning the game if we want to keep thinking about Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification.”

Tune into the match live on from 12:30pm CET with commentators Nick Heath and Tom May. 

By Gary Heatly
Images: Russia Rugby Union/Vladimir Gorshkov

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