Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s squad returned to action against No. 19-ranked Portugal, playing to a 20-17 decision Saturday morning at CAR Rugby Do Jamor in Lisbon in their penultimate match of 2021.

Portugal earned the first score of the contest just five minutes in off a try from Tomás Appleton and successful conversion. Canada answered back 20 minutes later, with captain Lucas Rumball connecting with teammate Cole Keith for the team’s first try of the match to pull within two points at 7-5.

A late Portugal penalty goal extended their lead to 10-5 after 40 minutes of play.

A back-and-forth second half of play saw Canada pull ahead 17-15 off a well-worked attack, capped off with a try from Corey Thomas—his second of the match—and conversion from Rob Povey with 10 minutes remaining.

With full time looming, Portugal’s Manuel Cardoso Pinto stunned the visitors with a last-second try after tracking down a perfectly placed chip into Canada’s in-goal just before the ball reached touch. The try secured a 20-17 win for Portugal.

“[Today’s loss] was hugely disappointing,” said Canada head coach Kingsley Jones. “It’s a terrible way to lose a match. We started poorly and conceded a try but we came back into the game really well, I’m really pleased with the players and the way they brought the physicality, they got themselves back into the game.”

Jones’ lineup featured a familiar group from the team’s most recent October matches, but with players such as Cole Keith, Michael Smith and Quinn Ngawati shifting to starting roles. The line-up also featured a Canadian debut at flyhalf for Spencer Jones.

“There were a lot of new faces in the team today that did really well,” added Jones. “Some new guys on the bench, unfortunately in a tight game they didn’t get on but hopefully they’ll get some time soon.”

Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s Team will now head to Stade Nelson Mandela in Brussels to face Belgium on November 13th. Broadcast details will be announced as they become available.