NICE, France (Reuters) – Portugal might have gone down as expected in their first match at the Rugby World Cup, losing 28-8 to Wales on Saturday, but emerged with their heads held high.

It was their first game at the tournament since their only previous appearance in 2007 and they thrilled the neutrals at the Stade de Nice with their positive approach.

“We’re really proud, especially as we have so many fans cheering for us,” captain Tomas Appleton told reporters.

“We are more proud of the environment and what we built over two years but the result wasn’t there. We made too many mistakes and at this level you suffer, so we need to correct a lot of things.”

Portugal’s French coach Patrice Lagisquet had a few moans before also praising his side’s approach to a game where few gave them any chance.

“We hoped to be closer to them in terms of the score. If we had not missed three kicks we would have been closer and at 21-15 we might have been dreaming (of an upset). We can take confidence, but Wales did switch quite a few players after Fiji.

“They (Wales) are a solid team at this level. For a nation like Portugal to have bothered Wales is a good thing to say. When you can bother a team such as Wales and you have an opportunity like this, we have to do a bit more. And I know they have the potential to do that.”

The late red card for winger Vincent Pinto, whose high boot struck Josh Adams in the face, came under fire from an irritated Lagisquet.

“The player was in the air and the (Welsh) players were coming into him. He was worried about hurting himself and so adjusted his position. So to red card him for that was to me very concerning,” said the Portugal coach.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Reporting by Nick Said in Nice; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Brought to you by