The USA saw Portugal’s Samuel Marques’s penalty goal on the final play draw 16 all to claim the final spot for the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Friday, November 18. Portugal will be in their second Rugby World Cup since their appearance in 2007 in France. The USA will miss their second appearance in the Rugby World Cup, with their first miss in 1995 in South Africa.
For those who missed the match, it may be seen on the recap on The Rugby Network.
Both teams entered the match 2-0 with 10 points in the standings. Portugal had +113 points point differential to the USA’s +96, so the draw against the USA gained the win for Portugal.
The USA took an early 3-0 lead after an AJ MacGinty penalty, but then a Nate Augspurger aggressive tackle had him sent to the bin. Portugal used that opportunity to strike back with the fullback Guedes offloading inside to Raffaele Storti for a try and a conversion by Marques, 3-7.
The USA had an attacking opportunity from a lineout 5 meters from in-goal, but a knock-on allowed Portugal to clear. The USA would later attack from a lineout 5 meters from in-goal, and after three infringements by Portugal, outside center Jose’ Lima, who was playing in his 50th test match, was sent to the bin for being offsides. AJ MacGinty slotted a penalty goal to cut the lead to 6-7.
MacGinty would have another chance at goal but missed wide right which resulted in a 22 meters drop. A USA scrum penalty had Portugal extending their lead to 6-10 after a penalty goal by Marques.
In the final minute, Portugal was penalized and the coaches could not get the message to the team to kick to touch to attempt to get a try before the break. Instead, captain AJ MacGinty slotted the kick as the USA cut Portugal’s lead to 9-10 at the break.
Portugal increase their lead after Cory Daniel was pinged for being off his feet at the breakdown with Samuel Marques adding a penalty goal, 9-13.
The USA would answer back with a try by Kapeli Pifeleti from close range with MacGinty converting to take a 16-13 lead with twenty minutes remaining.
The USA had an opportunity to perhaps seal the match after a 5-meter attacking scrum in the 76th minute, however, a penalty allowed Portugal to attack from a lineout with a kick and chase taken by Christin Dyer at the USA 22 meters. The box kick by De Haas went into touch for a Portugal lineout inside USA territory.
Portugal gained a penalty advantage and flyhalf Jeronimo Portilla attempted a drop goal after the 80th minute, which bounced off the right post with Mitch Wilson gathering. Portugal then had one last chance for a penalty goal, with Samuel Marques slotting the 35-meter kick for a 16-all draw. This was all that was needed for Portugal to claim the final 2023 Rugby World Cup spot.
Portugal’s Marques was named Player of the Match, but fullback Guedes demonstrated some magical skills with kick passes and attacking rugby.
The USA will be disappointed but played to the very end and were in the position to advance in the closing moments.
USA: 1 David Ainu’u, 2 Kapeli Pifeleti, 3 Paul Mullen, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Cam Dolan, 6 Vili Helu, 7 Cory Daniel, 8 Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, 9 Ruben de Haas, 10 AJ MacGinty (capt.), 11 Nate Augspurger, 12 Paul Lasike, 13 Bryce Campbell, 14 Christian Dyer, 15 Mitch Wilson 16 Mikey Sosene-Feagai, 17 Jack Iscaro, 18 Nathan Sylvia, 19 Benjamín Bonasso, 20 Moni Tonga’uiha, 21 Chris Mattina, 22 Luke Carty, 23 Tavite Lopeti
PORTUGAL: 1 Francisco Fernandes, 2 Mike Tadjer, 3 Diogo Ferreira, 4 Steevy Cerqueira, 5 José Madeira, 6 João Granate, 7 Rafael Simões, 8 Thibault de Freitas, 9 Samuel Marques, 10 Jerónimo Portela, 11 Rodrigo Marta, 12 Tomás Appleton (capt.), 13 José Lima, 14 Raffaele Storti, 15 Nuno Sousa Guedes 16 David Costa, 17 Lionel Campergue, 18 António Prim, 19 José Rebelo de Andrade, 20 Nicolás Martíns, 21 Pedro Lucas, 22 Vincent Pinto, 23 Simão Bento