LISBON, Portugal — A Canadian comeback fell short Saturday as Manuel Cardoso Pinto scored a late try to give Portugal a 20-17 win in an international rugby test.
Canada had rallied for a 17-15 lead on two second-half Corey Tomas tries before Portugal launched one last attack with Pinto beating a Canadian defender to touch down a kick before it bounced out of the Canadian end zone. Jorge Abecasis missed the conversion attempt from the sideline.
The contest was the first for the Canadian men since failing to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, losing series against the 17th-ranked U.S. in September and No. 26 Chile in October.
Cole Keith also scored a try for the 23-ranked Canadians, who trailed 10-5 at the half. Rob Povey added a conversion.
Tomas Appleton and Raffaele Storti had the other tries for No. 19 Portugal. Nuno Sousa Guede kicked a penalty and conversion.
The Canadian men head to Brussels to play No. 28 Belgium next Saturday.
Both teams made mistakes in a choppy game in the Portuguese capital.
Portugal took an early lead on a converted try by Appleton. Canada answered in the 22nd minute with Keith, beating a defender, bulling his way over after an offload from Lucas Rumball. But Povey missed what seemed like a routine conversion, leaving the Canadians trailing 7-5.
The Portugal backs made inroads on the Canadian defence as the half wore on but several good moves ended in handling errors.
A Portugal penalty in the 38th minute upped the lead to 10-5.
Portugal had another good attack going in the 48th minute only to see it end in a penalty just metres from the try-line.
The home side increased its lead to 15-5 in the 53rd minute, taking advantage of an overlap down the right side with Storti touching down in the corner to cap off a prolonged attack. The conversion attempt bounced off the post.
Canada closed the gap to 15-10 in the 68th minute with Thomas going over from an attacking lineup after a Portugal penalty allowed the Canadians to get deep in opposition territory.
Canada kept coming, with the forwards battering their way towards the Portugal try-line. Another Thomas try and a Povey conversion gave Canada a 17-15 lead.
There were eight Toronto Arrows in Canada's starting 15, including captain Lucas Rumball, with two more on the bench.
Canada had won all four previous matches with Portugal.
But Portugal was coming off a 49-26 victory over No. 22 Russia in July, having dispatched No. 20 Spain and the 24th-ranked Netherlands earlier this year, also in World Cup qualifying.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2021
The Canadian Press