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Uruguay look to pressure global powers for more elite matches

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By Ian Ransom

FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – Uruguay coach Esteban Meneses has urged his players to put on a good show against Australia and Wales in their final World Cup matches and convince the game’s global powers they are worthy of more elite fixtures.

The Uruguayans were beaten 33-7 by Georgia in their last start on Sunday but showed their pedigree by stunning Pacific power Fiji in their World Cup opener at Kamaishi last week.

‘Los Teros’ will have their hands full against twice world champions Australia in Oita on Saturday before they take on the Welsh on Oct. 13 but Meneses said it was vital his side remained competitive to the end.

“Playing these rivals almost never happens to us and what we have ahead of us is a very good opportunity to use these two tier-one teams and title candidates as a measuring stick to see where we are,” he told reporters in Oita on Thursday.

“Do we want to play these games more often? Then let’s take this opportunity to make it an almost formal request for more competition of this level.”

Meneses has overhauled the starting 15 that lost to Georgia, with centre Andres Vilaseca to lead the side in place of benched flanker-captain Juan Manuel Gaminara.

Hooker Facundo Gattas was suspended for three matches after receiving a red card for a high, no-arms tackle against Georgia, effectively ruling him out of the World Cup.

Uruguay have appealed against the decision and will press their case at a hearing on Friday.

The South Americans’ forwards were outmuscled by the Georgians and the onus will be on them to lift their game against a strong Australian pack that has been dominant in the set pieces and a back row featuring tireless flanker-captain Michael Hooper.

“We are going to have to be clear, forceful and fight every ruck as if it were the last one because on the other side will be Hooper,” said number eight Manuel Diana.

“And we all know what happens if Hooper is comfortable in there.”

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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