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Saturday, October 2, 1999 Published at 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK

Uruguay win battle of the new-boys

Uruguay celebrate their ever World Cup victoiry at Galashiels

Spain 15-27 Uruguay

It might not have set the Rugby World Cup alight, but for Uruguay their first ever match in the finals produced an historic victory at Galashiels.

Spain, though, came agonisingly close to pulling off a shock victory in the battle of the Latin minnows after staging a memorable second-half fightback - thanks to the boot of fly-half Andrei Kovalenco.

The showdown between the World Cup's two rank outsiders was a scrappy affair, strewn with handling errors.

But as a spectacle it proved a huge hit with a bumper crowd of nearly 4,000 in the picturesque Borders setting.

The European outfit made a superb start, as Uruguay were forced into their own half for much of the opening period.

A penalty from Ukranian-born Kovalenco took Spain into the lead - but from then on it was hard going as Uruguay fought back superbly to dominate the remainder of the first half.

Fly-half Diego Aguirre levelled the scores with a penalty and Uruguay went ahead for the first time when their captain and number eight, Diego Ormeachea powered over for a try after a series of scrums on the Spanish line.

Scrum-half Frederico Sciarra added the conversion.

Fightback begins

However Kovalenco kept Spain in touch with a penalty on the stroke of half-time - and when he hit two more in quick succession early in the second half his side moved 12-10 ahead.

At this stage Spain looked set for victory as they continued to dominate with a series of fine attacks - but an inability to find the final telling pass constantly frustrated their efforts.

Uruguay regained the lead when they were awarded a penalty try after Spain were penalised for collapsing the scrum.

But Spain again hit back with the reliable Kovalenco kicking his fifth penalty of the game.

Both sides endeavoured to play 15-man rugby and always ran the ball, even when they were trapped deep in their own territory.

Spain can be proud that they ran their far more experienced opponents close and, with a little more luck, could even have won.

But their hopes were finally killed off in the dying minutes of the match as Uruguayan full-back Alfonso Cardoso scored in the corner after a brilliant weaving run.

As Spain threw caution to the wind, Uruguayan substitute, Juan Menchaca intercepted a pass and sprinted 70 yards to score and cement his side's victory by a unrealistic margin.


Spain: Angel Frechilla, Ripol, Encisco, Loubsens, Bastide, Kovalenco, Alonso, Malo, C. Souto, Diaz, S. Souto, Miguel Villau, Zapatero, De La Calle, Camps.

Replacements: Puertas, Etxebarria, Gallasteghui, Mata, Astarloa, Torres, Zarzosa.

Uruguay: Cardoso, Ferres, Vecino, Mendaro, Costabile, Aguirre, Sciarra, Ormaechea, Panizza, Brignoni, Lame, Bado Carlos, Lemoine, Lamelas, Sanchez.

Replacements: Menchaca, Sosa Diaz, de Leon, Grille, Alzueta, Storace, De Los Santos.

Referee: Chris White (England)

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