Rodrigo Fernandez crossed for a stunning individual score in the RWC 2023 qualifier against the USA
Watch: Astonishing Chile try in rain-soaked Santiago
Beating seven defenders on your way to crossing the try-line is always impressive. Doing it on a water-logged pitch in a Rugby World Cup qualifier is astonishing.
That is exactly what Chile fly-half Rodrigo Fernandez did against the USA in Santiago on Saturday night.
Conditions at the Estadio Santa Laura Universidad SEK were far from ideal – heavy rain in the Chile capital meant there were puddles of water on the pitch and players were covered in mud – but that didn’t stop Fernandez from launching a counter-attack from close to his own 22 in the 51st minute of the match.
The ball was no doubt slippery but it was actually the No 10 who proved difficult to catch as he weaved past seven Eagles defenders to run in a try from 80 metres.
It wasn’t enough to help Chile to victory in the first leg of their RWC 2023 qualifier, although a late Santiago Videla try did reduce the deficit to just one point going into match two in the States.
The 22-21 scoreline is exactly the same as the one in the first leg of their previous qualifier against Canada – and they triumphed 33-24 in the second leg last year to make it through to this Americas Two play-off.
They face a sterner challenge this time as they have to travel away for the second leg whereas against the Canadians they were at home for the decider, but Fernandez will have put the Eagles on high alert for the running threat in the Chilean line-up. As Opta’s stats show, he beat more defenders than all the other players in the match combined!
The two sides meet again at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, on Saturday, with the USA hoping to qualify for their seventh straight World Cup and ninth overall, while Chile are aiming to make it to the global showpiece for the first time.
The winner on aggregate will go through to France 2023 as Americas Two and go into Pool D with Argentina, England, Japan and Samoa. The loser will go into November’s Final Qualification Tournament with Portugal, Kenya and the loser of Tonga v Hong Kong to determine who gets the final place at next year’s World Cup.
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