Portugal got their Rugby World Cup 2023 Final Qualifier Tournament campaign in Dubai off to the perfect start on a busy weekend of action involving Rugby Europe teams.
In their first of three matches, on Sunday Portugal defeated Hong Kong 42-14 with tries from second-row José Madeira, winger Raffaele Storti (2), stand-off Miguel Morais, winger Rodrigo Marta and centre José Lima. Scrum-half Samuel Marques converted all six of them.
Elsewhere at the weekend, in the men’s Trophy, Lithuania set themselves up for this coming weekend’s trip to leaders Switzerland with a bonus point 39-20 win over Ukraine in Šiauliai on Saturday.
They got off to the perfect start when winger Domantas Baguzis rampaged down the right to score a try in the opening minutes.
However, Ukraine showed they would be no soft touch and by half-time it was 20-17 to Lithuania.
Ten minutes into the second half, winger Jonas Mikalcius scored an important try for the home side to make it 25-17 and give them more than a seven point lead.
That was stretched to 32-20 and, with 15 minutes remaining, scrum-half Tautvydas Krasauskas was put in for a converted try by Mikalcius and that completed the scoring.
As mentioned, Switzerland lead the tournament standings after they went to the Malmö Stadium on Saturday and defeated Sweden 69-12.
Sweden were actually 7-3 ahead early on in this one before Switzerland found their form and led 29-7 at the interval.
They won the second half 40-5, showing they may well be a team to beat in this competition.
In the women’s Trophy on Saturday, Germany got their first win of this year’s tournament in Hürth by edging out Czechia 12-10 after a dramatic ending.
The teams were tied at 0-0 at half-time and it took until the 50th minute for the deadlock to be broken, Pavl’na Cuprova the visiting centre scoring an unconverted try.
When the same player scored a second just minutes later, Czechia were 10-0 up with 25 minutes to go.
Germany needed something special from somewhere and it came when full-back Laura Schwinn ran in for a try with just a few minutes to go. She then knocked over an excellent conversion and it was 10-7.
Winger Steffi Gruber then fielded a wayward clearance kick to run in and score the winning unconverted try for Germany in injury time.
In men’s Conference 1 South, Bulgaria are now top of the table with two wins from two after Saturday’s home 34-15 victory over Israel.
In the men’s Autumn internationals, Romania defeated fellow Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers Chile 30-23 on Saturday, Spain lost 40-6 to Tonga on the same day and Georgia were on great form on Sunday to see off Uruguay 34-18.
In age-grade rugby, there were four under-20 men’s Championship quarter-finals in Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday.
The Netherlands defeated Germany 32-0, Spain beat Czechia 51-13, Belgium edged out Romania 18-6 and the hosts saw off Poland 43-10.
The semi-finals take place on Wednesday.
By Gary Heatly
Evaldas Černiauskas, Daniel Storch, Thomas Schäfer