Uruguay set up a potential Pool A decider against Scotland with a come-from-behind victory over Zimbabwe at Nyayo National Stadium.
The inaugural winners in of this competition in 2008, Uruguay finished fourth four years ago. In their opening game of the 2023 edition, they earned a last-gasp win against the USA.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, served notice of their potential with a second-half fightback against Scotland in their opening-match defeat, and it was the Junior Sables who struck first here.
From a fourth-minute lineout, a smart one-handed offload in midfield sent number eight Shingi Manyarara charging under the posts.
Uruguay were almost level in the 12th minute after a series of pick-and-goes. But heroic defending from Zimbabwe led to a turnover.
A lack of accuracy continued to let Los Teritos down, and they were made to pay in the 23rd minute when, from another attacking lineout, Zimbabwe spread the ball wide to Edward Sigauke. The winger still had plenty of work to do but he jinked inside then out to touch down in the corner.
Uruguay hit back straight from kick-off when second row Jeronimo Noseda barrelled over from close range.
A penalty kick from Juan Bautista Crisci then made it a four-point game and Uruguay led when Dante Soto came off his wing to pick up a scrappy lineout and burst straight through the Zimbabwe defence.
Zimbabwe, down by a player after illegal contact in the air, continued to look dangerous in possession but Uruguay held out to go in at half-time 17-14 ahead.
After a scrappy start to the second half, Uruguay were awarded a penalty try when Zimbabwe brought down a rolling maul close to the line. Los Teritos would have extended their lead on the hour mark but for a forward pass.
A further Uruguay penalty and a try from centre Guillermo Juan Storace, after a dart from replacement scrum-half Pedro Hoblog, put the result beyond doubt.
With Uruguay’s scrum now completely dominant, another penalty try gave the scoreline some gloss and an intercept effort – Uruguay’s sixth try – from replacement Alfonso Chahnazaroff made it 51 unanswered points and ensured Los Teritos head into their clash against Scotland full of confidence.