Los Teros beat Brazil 36-13 on Sunday to finish top of the South American qualifying tournament and secure the top regional position. They now wait for the winner of the series between the USA Eagles and Canada to find out their opponent in the Americas 1 Play-off, which will decide which team qualifies into Pool A of Rugby World Cup 2023 with France, New Zealand, Italy and Africa 1.
Having first beaten Chile last week 15-10, Uruguay only needed a bonus point to secure pole position, while if Brazil managed to beat the Uruguayans with bonus points, scoring more than 16 points than their opponents and keeping them to no bonus points, they would have advanced to the second stage of the qualifying rounds.
For a while, the Brazilians seemed destined to greatness, going into the break with a 13-10 lead and starting the second half with the advantage of playing against a home side with a player in the sin-bin.
Having opened the score through a Moisés Duque's penalty, Brazil could not defend a superb double miss pass from fly-half Felipe Berchesi that lead to full-back Rodrigo Silva's opening try right on the quarter-hour mark.
A second penalty on the 30-minute mark from Duque replied 10 minutes later to Gaston Mieres' first try, scrum-half Agustín Ormaechea smartly playing a quick line out with the veteran wing.
Berchesi missing both touchline conversions and Brazil were then awarded a penalty try when flanker Manuel Ardao forced a rolling maul to fall. Brazil got the seven points and Ardao a yellow card.
After the break, Los Teros got rid of the cobwebs to their game, upped the tempo and started to play a more cohesive style. It was Ardao that started Mieres' second try, a great move from the backs to put the veteran winger in the corner.
That try turned the tables and Uruguay never looked back, with Mieres getting his hat-trick in the 59th minute – nine after his second touchdown – needing an inside step to break the last tackle.
The Brazilians illegally brought down a maul and a second penalty try was awarded by Italian referee Andrea Piardi.
Would be try-scorer, Juan Echeverría, got his five-pointer two minutes later, with Brazil down to 14 players in the same manner.
"This win is very important for us as we've managed the first of our goals," said man-of-the-match Gastón Mieres.
"The game was a bit stop-start in the first half, but once we managed to get a hold of the set pieces, we managed to play the way we wanted."
The veteran of Rugby World Cups 2015 and 2019 admitted that nerves played a role. "Once we got that out of the way, we did what was planned and had some good moves working out."
Uruguay and Chile's next opponents will be decided in St. John's on 9 September and Colorado a week later. The winner of the series between Canada and USA will play Uruguay and the loser Chile.
Photo: Gaspafotos / Sudamérica Rugby