Esteves is hero of comeback victory

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am


A 'unique moment at a unique event' was how hulking Portuguese No8 Aderito Esteves (pictured) described crossing the line after the horn sounded to seal a dramatic comeback for his side against Japan in one of the best games of the tournament.

The Japanese racked up 22 unanswered points in the first half of their qualifying group clash before the Portuguese machine clicked into gear and ran all over their opponents to bring the crowd to their feet.

The comeback was capped by Esteves' mazy run down the middle as he brushed off the attentions of two defenders to score.

With the conversion it was 26-22 to Portugal, who now enter the final day with three wins.

'We started not so well against Guyana [Portugal won 19-0] but we started playing like a team against Japan and doing all the things we had been doing back in training in Portugal,' said Esteves.

'We just decided at half-time to go out and play and to make sure they didn't get the ball. If they got the ball they would have won, simple as that.

'So we kept it off them and we ran. And we played the same way against Russia.'

Portugal won that game 17-10 and Esteves was again at the heart of their effort, scoring their first try and handing off to David Mateus for their second. But it was the try against the Japanese that will long live in the memory of a man who has come to town seven times.

The Portuguese looked out of it at the break but never gave their opponents a look in and they celebrated wildly - along with the crowd - when the final kick went over.

'This tournament is unique,' said Esteves. 'So that was a special moment for me.'