It is that if at the interval the Wolves, in Patrice Lasgisquet’s home debut in the technical command of the selection, won by comfortable and fair 14-0, a start of 2nd half little less than clumsy by the young fifteen national allowed the “Diables Noirs “match the score after the game. And it was at the expense of remarkable attitude and great team spirit, and when things looked like they would turn in favor of a Belgian team with a powerful forward but predictable and with a “game of 10” model that is no longer used at this competitive level, Tomás Appleton and his companions went to find the little energy that was left in an already very empty warehouse and pushing the opponent into their midfield ended up solving the match with two penalties of the irreproachable Danny Antunes, the “man of the game” , and that only wasted one of the six kicks to the posts he tried, obtaining a total of 13 points.
After three seasons playing in the European Trophy (3rd level of European rugby), in which they won 15 victories in so many other games, the Portuguese players now felt in their bodies what it is like to face fifteen in a higher level. And due to the exposed sample, the four days that will come will not be sweet pears, they will not, starting next Saturday against Romania in Caldas da Rainha.
Aligning with four players who play in French clubs, one in Spain and another in England, Portugal started the game well, but the national performance in the alignments was so poor – the rain did not help but the bad connection between the pitcher Campergue, of I return five years later to the national team, and the jumpers – that the Wolves had no balls to attack in conditions, when it was known that our quick and imaginative three-quarters, with space and ball, could make misery and the difference between the two teams . What helped the national team was that this Belgium – which only opened the ball twice to the back lines in the five rounds of the 2019 Champioship! – it is a “fifteen in a single move” (touche-maul-nova touche-another maul- until-see-where-this-is-going) and also in combat on the ground he was apathetic and nerve-free, allowing ball recoveries in catadupa.
Until at 14 “in a quick Portuguese attack by the three-quarters, the oval reached the center António Vidinha (good game!) That he simulated and in an inside pass delivered to defender Manuel Cardoso Pinto for the inaugural rehearsal before a Belgian defense to see play.
The Wolves dominated the game and at 37 “, in the first alignment finally conquered by Portugal (David Wallis, who else?) The striker Danny Antunes penetrated the center gaining meters on meters with the move developing quickly through João Belo and Cardoso Pinto who fixed and gave José Maria Vareta for the right wing to make the second of the afternoon, who sealed the 14-0 in the rest with new conversion by Danny Antunes.
And when you counted what was missing for the fifteen national to reach the attacking bonus point in the 2nd half, such were the facilities found in the 1st half, Portugal’s restart was disastrous and could have put everything in question.
In just 15 minutes and given the Portuguese inability to counter the power of the Belgian striker, two dynamic maul following alignments after penalties caused by unnecessary national fouls (the first was even considered by the Scottish referee as a penalty test with the accompanying yellow card a Wallis reducing the team to 14 for 10 minutes) allowed the visitors to equalize the match to 17 points, after Antunes and Alan Williams exchanged penalty kicks.
A beautiful solo shot by Cardoso Pinto (moved to the tip by Vareta’s injury and João Freudenthal’s entry for defense) almost gave the third test that could have calmed things down. But in the face of Portuguese youth and inexperience (only three players over the age of 26 and a total of 121 caps, a third of which from Captain Appleton) ran a little cold through the University that had nothing to do with the humid and rainy day, it was because of fear that the Portuguese debut, after all, would be marked by a painful defeat in the face of such a modest opponent.
But with the strength of courage, soul and intelligence, Portugal would eventually turn around the destiny that seemed to be going to be his stepmother. The national team pushed the Belgians to their defense, starting to occupy mostly the area of 22 opposite. And two opposing fouls – the second of which was already above 80 “caused by the national mélée, reinvigorated by the entry of the Francisco Bruno pillar – converted by the tuned Danny sealed the hard-earned, laborious but entirely fair triumph.
Portugal aligned with: Manuel Cardoso Pinto (5); Danny Antunes (3,3,3,2,2), António Vidinha, Tomás Appleton (cap.), José Maria Vareta (5) (João Freudenthal); João Lima, João Belo (Duarte Azevedo); Thibault de Freitas (Manuel Picão), David Wallis, João Granate, José Maria Rebelo de Andrade (Duarte Torgal), José Madeira, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, Lionel Campergue and Ivo Morais (Francisco Bruno).
In the other meetings of this first round, Spain went to Sochi to beat Russia, by 31-12 (five trials!) And Georgia received in Tbilisi and beat Romania, by 41-13.
In the 2nd round to be played next weekend, Portugal receives the Romanian team in Caldas da Rainha, Saturday (15.00).