Uruguay have qualified for Rugby World Cup 2019 by beating Canada 32-31 in the second leg of their Americas 2 play-off to claim a 70-60 aggregate victory.
Los Teros led the tie 38-29 after the first leg in Vancouver last weekend and went into Saturday's game as firm favourites, but a much-improved effort from Canada had them rattled until Andres Vilaseca crossed for the second time late on.
The South Americans will now join Australia, Wales, Georgia and Fiji in Pool D at Japan 2019.
Canada coach Kingsley Jones could not have asked for any more from his side. Within 12 minutes they’d all but wiped out the nine-point deficit, a penalty from Brock Staller and a try from DTH van der Merwe putting them 8-0 up.
That lead increased to 15-0 when winger Taylor Paris dotted down at the back of a maul and Staller, who’d struck the upright with his first conversion, successfully added the extras.
Energised by the partisan home crowd inside the Estadio Charrua, Uruguay finally responded in the 34th-minute through second-row Ignacio Dotti, after replacement scrum-half Agustin Ormaechea caught the visitors napping with a quickly-taken tap penalty.
Fly-half Felipe Berchesi converted and added a penalty but Staller replied in kind to make it 18-10 on the day and a one-point game across the two ties at half-time.
Centres clinch victory
Uruguay started the second half strongly and scored within two minutes of the restart through outside centre Juan Manuel Cat.
But it was his fellow centre who was the toast of Montevideo when he capitalised on two Canadian handling errors on halfway, either side of a mauled try from replacement front-row Djustice Sears-Duru, to break away and make the game safe.
Even so, there was still time for one last act of defiance from Canada when van der Merwe, who gave it his all throughout the 80 minutes, extended his national try-scoring record to 31 with the last act of the game.
While Uruguay can look forward to their fourth Rugby World Cup, having appeared in 1999, 2003 and 2015, Canada must now win the four-team global repechage in November to preserve their ever-present record.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Congratulations to Uruguay on their Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification. They can now take their place in Pool D with pride and plan for what promises to be a very special tournament in Japan.
“These America 2 qualifiers were hugely exciting and demonstrate the growing strength of rugby in the Americas. While Canada will be disappointed, they will now concentrate on their Americas Rugby Championship campaign and bouncing back stronger for the repechage in November.”