Argentina picked up their first tournament victory as they beat Romania 43-8 in Invercargill.
It was an improved performance on attack from Argentina, who failed to score a try in their 13-9 opening game defeat to England last week. While it came against minnows Romania, it will be a massive confidence booster for the Pumas considering they were without their skipper and talisman Felipe Contepomi. Argentina created numerous try scoring opportunities, finishing six of them, and secured the four-try bonus point in the 29th minute.
The Pumas’ forwards were key in the Invercargill outing, winning the ascendancy with frequent front foot ball and the backline prospered in dry conditions. The heavies were also resilient on defence. Flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamón was the standout performer for the victors in this regard as put in a tireless all-round performance. Fullback Lucas González Amorosino and flyhalf Santiago Fernández were the main playmakers and showed some individual brilliance to unsettle the Romanian defence.
Argentina produced the perfect start in the opening 10 minutes of the match, scoring their first two tries from good build-up play and quick recycle from the breakdowns. After several ball carries, Fernandez bashed over from first receiver before Leguizamón also capitalised from a similar scenario and broke through a rushed defence. The result was sealed by the 26th minute, as tighthead prop Juan Figallo and Amorosino continued the first-half rout. The only criticism was that the Pumas could’ve claimed three more tries if their passes kept to hand.
Romania managed to score in the corner through wing Ionel Cazan, but they never looked like coming back from the 26-8 half-time deficit as they showed very little on attack.
The Oaks’ most outstanding period of play came in the third quarter as they showed a strong defence and managed to frustrate Argentina for much of the second stanza. And this despite going down to 14 men in the 53rd minute when loosehead Mihaita Lazar was sin binned for cynical play at the breakdown.
The Pumas had to wait until the 68th minute to score their next try when replacement wing Juan Imhoff ran a perfect angle to dive under the posts. Replacement flanker Genaro Fessia scored the final try of the match to cap off an impressive win – which the Pumas will want to build on as they head into their vital group game against Scotland in eight days time.
By Gareth Duncan