Germany beats Portugal to line up Samoa in RWC qualifying

HEIDELBERG, Germany — Germany beat Portugal 16-13 on Saturday to advance in qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to a two-leg playoff with Samoa.

The Germans will play Samoa in Apia on June 30 and stage the return leg on July 14. The winner on aggregate will qualify directly into Pool A in Japan next year. The runner-up will go to the repechage tournament in November.

Germany wasn't anywhere near the World Cup after dismally losing all five matches this year in the Rugby Europe Championship, and conceding a record 359 points in total. But then Romania, Spain, and Belgium had points docked for fielding ineligible players and Germany moved into the European playoff spot.

The unexpected gift moved Swiss businessman Hans-Peter Wild to suspend his two-year dispute with the German Rugby Federation, and make his players and coaches from the professional Heidelberger RK team available again for the national team. The squad included 14 from Heidelberger, who recently retained the German championship.

Portugal qualified for its only Rugby World Cup in 2007, and still included lock Goncalo Uva, who played his 101st test in Heidelberg.

By halftime, Portugal led 6-3 from two Louis Rodrigues penalties to one by Raynor Parkinson.

The first try came when two Germans missed a Portuguese up and under, and flanker Sebastiao Villax too easily broke through the backline and ran around the cover to score in the 48th minute. Rodrigues converted for 13-3.

The Germans' reply was almost instant. Scrumhalf Sean Armstrong tapped a penalty to himself just inside halfway, weaved through the Portuguese and put No. 8 Jarrid Els over in the left corner.

Parkinson made the conversion from the touchline, and his second penalty, from 40 meters, tied the score with 16 minutes left.

A lineout rolling maul over 15 meters earned the decisive penalty for Germany, which Parkinson nailed from the left side again in the 72nd.

Portugal couldn't get near the Germany 22, and finished the match defending its line, and almost conceding a try from a dropped pass.

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