After losing at home to Uruguay in the first leg of their crucial Rugby World Cup Americas 2 qualifying match, Canada stand on the brink of needing a repechage tournament to gain entry to the game’s greatest showpiece event.
Uruguay will take a nine-point advantage into the decisive second leg of the two game series after winning a pulsating match against the Canucks 38-29 in Vancouver last night.
With Uruguay holding an advantage on the scoreboard and venue in Montevideo on 3 February, Canada will need to produce a magnificent performance if they are to avoid negotiating the Repechage tournament later this year.
With the World Rugby Rankings suggesting little to choose between the two sides before the match, a compelling encounter delivered great skill, drama and intensity as Uruguay defended heroically and took their chances well.
A breathless first half delivered five tries with Uruguay scoring three to lead 21-17.
The visitors took less than a minute to get on the scoreboard as livewire full back Rodrigo Silva cut through the Canada defence to score an excellent try, but tries from flanker Evan Olmstead and DTH van der Merwe looked to have given Canada a solid lead.
The Canadian pressure was relentless, but Uruguay were patient and clinical as first Leandro Leivas finished an excellent team try, before Santiago Arata darted from a ruck to score between the posts.
Canada hit back immediately after the interval when they were awarded a penalty try as Uruguay pulled down a rapidly-advancing maul, which resulted in a yellow card for German Kessler.
Down to 14 players, Uruguay responded superbly, with second row Ignacio Dotti showing a great turn of pace to power over in the corner, before Rodrigo Capo Ortega’s converted try gave the visitors an 11-point lead.
With 10 minutes left to play, Canada threw everything at Uruguay and hit back through centre Nick Blevins, but Felipe Berchesi, extended Uruguay’s lead to nine points with a penalty and Canada could not find a way back.
With the winner on aggregate over the two legs qualifying as Americas 2 into Pool D alongside Australia, Wales, Georgia and Fiji, Uruguay will have home advantage on 3 February.
Los Teros also top the Americas Rugby Championship 2018 standings as the match doubled as the opener to the Americas’ premier competition.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now