Russia took a stride to gaining their place at next year’s World Cup with a 22-21 win over Uruguay in the first leg of Saturday’s play-off in Krasnoyarsk.
A try from prop Grigory Tsobiladze and a flawless kicking display from fly-half Yuri Kushnarev was enough to get the home team over the line.
But Uruguay’s powerful pack and the seven penalties from the boot of Felipe Berchesi kept the South Americans in contention right to the end.
It sets up an enthralling return leg in Montevideo on 11 October. The winner will join Australia, England, Fiji and Wales in Pool A at RWC 2015.
Pens: Kushnarev 5
Pens: Berchesi 7
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev, 14 Mikhail Babaev, 13 Dmitry Gerasimov, 12 Alex Makovetskii, 11 Vladimir Ostroushko, 10 Yury Kushnarev, 9 Alexander Yanyushkin, 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Andrey Garbuzov, 6 Andrew Temnov, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Alexander Voitov (c), 3 Eugene Pronenko, 2 Valery Tsnobiladze, 1 Gregory Tsnobiladze.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Andrew igrets, 18 Andrei Ostrikov, 19 Paul Butenko, 20 Ramil Gysin, 21 Rushan Yagudin, 22 Denis Simplikevich
Uruguay: 15 Mieres, 14 Gibernau, 13 Prada, 12 Rom