That Brazil team was tough, they play with a lot of heart and made us work hard for our fourth-straight Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) win.
We got the victory and stayed in first place -- with a shot at history against Uruguay on Saturday -- but we found ourselves getting off-script once again. We didn't stick to our game plan and in the middle of that game, when we could have really put it away, we stopped scoring tries.
To put it simply, when we stuck to our game plan we were successful. When we went off-script, we were still better than Brazil, but very average in terms of what our standards are as a team.
Although the game got to within 10 points, it still felt like we were in control. There was no panic or desperation, and we still had some great phases of defense and attack. We even had a try called back. This was not an easy game, but it felt we were making it harder on ourselves than it had to be.
We played a bit more in the forwards because we wanted to play them a bit tighter. The humidity and potential for wet conditions with the ball had an effect on that. We were more physical than them, but once again, related to our standards as a team, we could have been better. Our guys have some good habits and will take accountability to improve in that area.
But there are a lot of positives to come out of beating Brazil 45-16, not least of which was really putting to bed that memory of losing to them in 2016.
We got back on the horse with our mental toughness. We were making mistakes, but after a period of the game in which we did not convert our opportunities, it took only one chance to get us back out ahead. In front of a small but passionate crowd and a Brazilian team that had some hope, we showed character in forcing them to break first.
That's a real positive for us -- how we were able to break out of a slow 30-minute period and show everyone what we can do. We scored some really good team tries and now we have to take that mental toughness into our game against a Uruguay team that has been playing really well.
We want to be the first team to go 5-0 in the ARC, and to do that, we have to beat Uruguay.
Uruguay deserve a lot of respect. They have been competing well so far this year, they have even pushed ahead of us in the world rankings. But I still don't see where that takes away the credit we deserve as a team.
Once again, we are on the road, there will be a big support for Uruguay in a championship match against the United States. We understand these things and are aware of the challenge ahead this Saturday.
We are the ones who have a chance to retain our own title and be the first team to win every single game in doing so. There's plenty on the line for both sides -- but we are confident.