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Portugal out to spoil European Championship for Georgian juggernaut

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images)

After four rounds of increasing intensity, the Rugby Europe Championship will reach a crescendo this weekend in a jam-packed Sunday of finals rugby.

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The showpiece fixture will see Georgia take on Portugal on Sunday evening to determine this year’s REC champion but all eight nations will be involved on finals day.

Georgia will go into the grand final as favourites having won 11 of the past 12 tournaments, dropping just a handful of matches throughout that incredibly successful period. They’ve unsurprisingly also held the wood over Portugal during their domination of the ‘Six Nations B’, as it’s colloquially referred to. In fact, not since 2005 has Portugal tasted victory over their European rivals – but that doesn’t mean they should be ruled out altogether.

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The past two matches between Georgia and Portugal have been closely-fought affairs, with Georgia securing a 23-14 victory during last 2022’s mid-year Tests and the two sides fighting out a 25-all draw earlier in the year. Notably, both those fixtures were played in Georgia, whereas this year’s clash will take place on neutral ground, with Spain playing host.

The new REC format for 2023 saw the eight competing nations split into two pools, with Georgia and Spain progressing from Group A to the top half of the finals draw and Romania and Portugal joining them from Group B.

In the competition semi-finals, Georgia scored a comfortable 31-7 win over Romania while Portugal bounced back from a 10-0 deficit after 20 minutes to bank a 27-10 comeback victory over Spain in the all-Iberian affair.

In the lower half of the draw, the Netherlands claimed a 31-19 victory over Belgium and Germany upset Poland 23-18.

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This Sunday’s finals day sees the top four sides travel to Badajoz, Spain with the bottom four teams playing in Amsterdam.

Rugby Europe Championship finals fixtures (all times CET), 19 March 2023:

12:30pm Belgium v Poland (7th/8th), Amsterdam
3:00pm Netherlands v Germany (5th/6th), Amsterdam
5:00pm Romania v Spain (bronze play-off), Badajoz
8:00pm Georgia v Romania (grand final), Badajoz

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