Portugal recorded a bonus point win in Germany in their final European Trophy game, but it was perhaps Germany who will be more satisfied with their performance.
To begin with the positives. Portugal completed their European Trophy campaign unbeaten, and in the end won comfortably, picking up a bonus point against a German team that was on form. Indeed this was arguably the best performance by Germany since their return to test rugby in 2016, especially considering that they lost 57-0 to the same opponents almost exactly a year ago. Germany were always in the game and at times more than matched a team that will be in the Championship next year.
On the other hand for Portugal this was, especially in the first half, perhaps their weakest performance since their return to test rugby in 2021. Despite having a massive advantage up front, they never controlled the game. Too many errors and some weak and ineffective kicking lead to signs of frustration in the Portugal camp, which only made things worse. At times it was the German backline that was giving a lesson in handling and kicking.
The bottom line is that in a year’s time Portugal will be taking on Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden and this sort of performance – especially against the first two – will not end well.
Indeed, it was Germany who had most of the best scoring opportunities in the first half, putting the Portuguese defence under some real pressure in the closing stages of the first half, but there were no scores and the half ended 0-0.
Portugal began the second half more positively, using their forwards more as an attacking weapon, but were initially let down by too many handling errors. However, in the 47th minute they finally broke the deadlock, second row Ana Freire scoring in the corner. 5-0 to Portugal.
Ten minutes later they doubled their lead. Two darting counter-attacking runs from Leonor Amaral and Mariana Santos combined to put in Matilde Goes and Portugal led 10-0 after the conversion attempt hit the post.
Portugal’s confidence was now growing, and Freire added the third try after 62 minutes, three defenders unable to stop her – 15-0, with the kick this time striking the crossbar.
Portugal also survived a yellow card against Maria Costa and scored a fourth try through Sara Moreira shortly after returning to 15 players. 20-0.
Right at the end Germany finally got the try they deserved, though the way Anja Fischer broke through multiple attempted tackles on her way to the line would be a concern for Portugal.
Final score – Germany 5, Portugal 20.
Germany: 1 Pia Erhart; 2 Joy Weatherspoon; 3 Mareike Bier (Cap); 4 Luise Lauter; 5 Salome Trauth; 6 Sophia Terwiel; 7 Esther Tilgner; 8 Ronja Stauch; 9 Clara Tauschek; 10 Lara Burger; 11 Johanna Hacker; 12 Mette Zimmat; 13 Annika Nowotny; 14 Steffi Gruber; 15 Sophie Hacker
16 Tina Schucker; 17 Michelle Henninger; 18 Emma Dehnert; 19 Melissa Paul; 20 Lotta Afflerbach; 21 Vivian Bahlmann; 22 Anika Horst; 23 Anja Fischer
Portugal: 1 Neuza Reis; 2 Beatriz Rodrigues; 3 Marta Magalhaes; 4 Ana Freire; 5 Laura Pereira; 6 Maria Teixeira; 7 Adelina Costa; 8 Sara Moreira; 9 Leonor Amaral; 10 Beatriz Oliveira; 11 Matilde Goes; 12 Maria Costa; 13 Isabel Ozorio; 14 Mariana Santos; 15 Daniela Correia (Cap)
16 Elsa Santos; 17 Maria Branco; 18 Carlota Torres; 19 Margarida Cunha; 20 Francisca Mendes; 21 Catia Joao; 22 Mariana Honorio; 23 Jessica Barros