WALES 28 – 8 PORTUGAL
WALES emerged victorious with a 28-8 win over a spirited Portugal side in a Pool C clash at the Rugby World Cup. Despite a rocky start and numerous challenges, the Welsh team managed to secure a crucial bonus-point victory, marking their second win of the tournament.
The first half of the game was marked by Wales struggling to find their rhythm. Their early difficulties were compounded by Johnny Williams being sent to the sin-bin, leaving them a player short. Meanwhile, Portugal’s efforts in the first half were limited to a single penalty kicked by Samuel Marques. However, as the half wore on, Wales managed to regain their composure and assert their dominance.
Two significant moments turned the tide in Wales’ favor before the halftime whistle. First, Louis Rees-Zammit scored a try following a clever pass from Jac Morgan. This try came during a counterattack, which was an essential momentum-shifter for Wales. Secondly, Dewi Lake, who was captaining the side for the day, powered his way over the try line from close range after tapping and going from a penalty, extending Wales’ lead to 14-3 at halftime.
Portugal, in their first World Cup appearance since 2007, displayed commendable resilience. Nicolas Martins managed to break through Wales’ defense and score a try in the second half, bringing Portugal back into the game. However, Wales remained unyielding.
In the second half, Jac Morgan’s try was a pivotal moment for Wales. The forward pack, which had undergone several changes early in the match, started to assert dominance, and Morgan capitalized on a period of sustained pressure to score Wales’ third try, which was converted.
Despite facing Wales’ resurgent attack, Portugal continued to play an effervescent and attacking style of rugby. They were rewarded when Nicolas Martins scored their second try, sparking celebrations among his teammates and coaching staff.
Unfortunately for Portugal, their spirited efforts were marred by a late red card shown to Vincent Pinto for a dangerous play, which significantly hampered their chances of a late comeback.
Wales, at times, seemed on the verge of securing a bonus-point victory but were denied a try-scoring opportunity in the closing stages when Gareth Davies’ try was disallowed due to obstruction. However, Taulupe Faletau sealed the bonus-point win with a try deep into injury time, ensuring that all four tries were converted by the reliable Leigh Halfpenny.
After the match, Warren Gatland, the head coach of Wales, reflected on the performance, saying, “It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done in the end.” He acknowledged that some players appeared rusty due to the numerous changes in the lineup but emphasized the importance of the win.
Gatland also had high praise for Portugal, saying, “I have got to give full credit to Portugal, I thought they were brilliant. They really brought that physicality and tested us [on Saturday].”
With this hard-fought victory, Wales now turns its attention to a crucial match against Australia in Pool C. Meanwhile, Portugal faces a challenging encounter with Georgia in their next game.
The clash between Wales and Portugal showcased the unpredictable and intense nature of rugby at the World Cup level, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this tournament.