Portugal are the eighth and final qualifier for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013 in Chile after stunning defending champions Georgia 23-10 in the final of the European Under 19 Championship in Lisbon on Saturday.
The home side took the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty by scrum half Nuno Guedes and never looked back, capitalising on the sin-binning of Giorgi Aptsiauri minutes later to increase their advantage to 10-0 with José Vareta scoring the first try of the final.
Georgia have twice finished third in the Junior World Rugby Trophy and finally got on the scoreboard with Saba Nikolava’s penalty but, to the delight of the home crowd, Portugal increased their lead to 20-3 at half time with a Vareta drop goal followed by number 8 Vasco Mendes’s try, converted by Guedes.
The Georgians did get the early score they needed in the second half with number 8 Vakhtang Amiranashvili touching down and Nikolava adding the extras, but that was as close as they got, Guedes adding another penalty eight minutes from time to make certain of victory.
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Portugal will become the 20th nation to grace the Junior World Rugby Trophy stage since its introduction in 2008 and join hosts Chile, Canada, Japan, Italy, Namibia, Tonga, former winners Uruguay in the battle for the 2013 title.
IRB Tournaments Manager Philippe Bourdarias said: "Congratulations to Portugal on their qualification, it's great to see new teams qualifying for the Junior World Rugby Trophy as it shows that the level is going up and how very competitive it is. The JWRT is an objective for these Unions and it shows how important the tournament is."
Georgia and Portugal had earned their shootout for the final JWRT 2013 place after topping their respective pools in the six-team competition. Georgia beat Spain 31-13 and Romania 20-11 to top Pool A, while Portugal edged Russia 14-8 and Belgium 21-18.
In the other play-offs on the final day in Lisbon, Belgium won a tight battle with Spain 23-20 to claim third place with former JWRT champions Romania and Russia left to squabble for fifth place, the Romanians running out comfortable 33-11 winners.