A hard-earned 18-13 win over Romania has seen Russia climb back into the top 20 of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings at Portugal’s expense.
Bears fly-half Ramil Gaisin kicked all of his side’s points in the opening round of Rugby Europe Championship 2021 in Sochi as they repeated their win over the Oaks last March.
Romania’s Florin Vlaicu, meanwhile, fell just short of becoming the first player outside of the leading nations to reach 1,000 test points.
The veteran centre kicked two penalties and converted the only try of the game, scored by Marius Antonescu, to finish the day agonisingly close to the momentous milestone.
Russia were awarded just over one point for the victory and they now swap places with Portugal who fell to a 29-16 home defeat to Georgia.
Portugal led the reigning champions 13-10 at half-time, scoring their only try through Rodrigo Marta while Giorgi Kveseladze was in the sin-bin for the visitors.
Each side received a yellow card apiece in a second half dominated by the Lelos.
Samuel Marques kicked his third penalty shortly after the restart but any thoughts of a first win over Georgia in 15 attempts were quickly brushed aside as the Lelos upped the tempo.
Giorgi Melikidze, Shalva Mamukashvili and Tornike Jalagonia added to first-half tries from Miriani Modebadze and Jaba Bregvadze and Soso Matiashvili was successful with two conversions.
Given the large points differential between the sides before the kick-off in Lisbon, Georgia only gained three-tenths of a point for the bonus-point victory and remain in 12th place.
The winner of results across both Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 will determine the direct qualifiers for France 2023, with the top two teams participating at the next Rugby World Cup as Europe 1 and 2, and the third-placed side entering into the Final Qualification tournament.
With maximum points, Georgia lead the way in the race to take part in France 2023, while Russia are in second place in the table on four points.