Uruguay are this year's World Rugby Nations Cup champions.
Los Teros beat Spain 21-14 to win the competition for the first time and finish as the only unbeaten side in one of the the most competitive tournaments to date; five of the six teams won matches, with the final going down to the wire.
Earlier, Russia beat Namibia, taking a valuable bonus point that allowed them to finish second place due to the fact that Argentina XV narrowly beat Emerging Italy at the end of the second match on day three, which was affected by strong winds.
Argentina XV finished third in the tournament, followed by Namibia, Spain and Emerging Italy.
Russia 31 – Namibia 10
In an error-ridden game, it was the massive size of winger Denis Simplikevich that forced a try in the left-hand corner after eleven minutes; he touched down after crashing over three tacklers.
Soon after, the Russians were on the score board again, with lock Bogdan Fedokto scoring close to the posts from a pick and go, converted by flyhalf Yuri Kushnarev.
Good handling skills generated the space through which Namibian fullback Chrysander Botha scored and it didn’t take long for Russia to be awarded a penalty try for illegally collapsing a maul, taking them to the break with a 19-5 lead.
Two early tries within two minutes – from captain Vasily Artemyev and prop Vladimir Podrezov – minutes after the restart allowed them to play the final 30 minutes in comfort.
Argentina 15 – Emerging Italy 10
Argentina XV defeated Emerging Italy in a hard-fought game that was only decided in the final minutes. Failure to take a try-scoring bonus point meant the Felipe Contepomi-coached side could not take Russia’s place at the medal presentation.
As they had done in their two previous Nations Cup games, Argentina XV scored their first try within a handful of minutes through Pablo Quaranta. This was aided by the fact that Italy were reduced temporarily to fourteen men after a sin bin in the eleventh second.
Back to a full team, the Italians managed to find a gap in the well-oiled Argentine defence for fullback Matteo Minozzi to score. In an intense game, with too many handling mistakes, Joaquín Díaz Bonilla’s boot gave Argentina XV a three-point lead at halftime, 10-7.
At the start of the second half Leonardo Mantelli added a penalty to his earlier goal when their opponents were down one player due to a sin-bin. Both teams failed time and again to break defences and it would be only four minutes from the end that, after hard work by the pack, lock Ignacio Larrague scored the winning try for South Americans.
Uruguay 24 – Spain 14
Uruguay knew that winning the Nations Cup for the first time was in their hands and they were able to celebrate at home after defeating Spain on Sundayevening in Montevideo. This important win also meant they advance three spots in the World Rugby rankings, which will be announced later today, but the win is also a boost ahead of their Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying process.
The opening half saw Los Teros take a 9-3 lead – three penalties by Felipe Berchesi, one from Bradley Linklater for Spain – although neither team showed superiority, with the home side displaying a resolute defence to deny Spain any chances.
The best came in the tournament’s final forty minutes. The first try came as scrum-half Santiago Arata took the second half kick-off, ran straight at the Spanish defence and, after beating four would-be tacklers, chipped over the last line of defence and shirked three more defenders for the individual try of the tournament. Berchesi added the goal for a 16-3 lead.
Spain did not surrender and Linklater narrowed the gap with two penalties but soon afterwards, Berchesi scored his fourth penalty of the cold afternoon.
It was a tense final after Spanish lock Víctor Sánchez Borrego scored a try in the 71st minute to narrow Uruguay’s lead to only five points, with the wind at their backs.
The crowd support pushed Los Teros, who looked to stretch the lead rather than wear the clock down. Their reward came in the form of a try from right winger Leandro Leivas who crashed through his direct opponent for a try that secured the win and with it, Uruguay's first Nations Cup.
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