Argentina scored a late try to beat Scotland 13-12 in Wellington and take a big step towards the quarter-finals.
The Pumas and Scots now both have 10 log points after three games, with the former set to play Georgia in their last pool fixture and the latter up against England. Scotland, in all likelihood, will have to beat the Poms and score four tries to stand any chance of progressing further.
This was an ordinary match, but it had a thrilling finish.
When replacement flyhalf Dan Parks slotted a drop kick to make it 12-6 with eight minutes to go it forced Argentina, who had rarely sent the ball past No 12, to play an expansive game in search of a try. Replacement wing Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino got possession on the right-hand touchline, brushed off the tackle of Chris Paterson and cut back inside to score. Contepomi, who’d had an average night with the boot, nailed the pressure conversion.
Scotland, though, had a glorious chance to win the game in the final couple of minutes when they kicked a penalty into the corner, won the 5m lineout and used their forwards to set up Parks for the drop goal. But pressure from Contepomi forced his opponent to kick with his left foot and he missed the target.
Scotland had deservedly led 6-3 at half-time thanks to penalties from Paterson and Ruaridh Jackson, while Contepomi kicked one from in front. The Scots had 61% of the possession in the first 40 and were regularly able to get over the advantage line, while the Pumas offered nothing on attack.
Scotland crucially achieved parity at scrum time, with Argentina losing two key forwards – No 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (who injured his knee in the 20th minute before hobbling off in the 30th) and loosehead prop Rodrigo Roncero (who appeared to pull a groin muscle just before the break).
The Scots came close to scoring early in the second half when Max Evans regathered his kick, but Rory Lawson opted to dart around the blindside of the subsequent ruck instead of offloading to Jim Hamilton on his outside, and the ball was turned over.
With half an hour to go, the rain came pelting down and the game became tighter.
Contepomi missed a penalty goal at the start of the final quarter, but kicked one soon after to level the scores. Jackson then regained the lead with a 30m drop goal, before Contepomi hit the right-hand upright with his penalty attempt.
Then came Parks’ drop goal, which set up a dramatic final 10 minutes in which Argentina dug deep to pull off a famous win.
By Simon Borchardt