Argentina tightened its grip on a Rugby World Cup Pool C quarter-final berth after a 45-16 bonus point win over Tonga in Leicester on Sunday. Despite going down to New Zealand in their opening fixture, Los Pumas have now recorded back-to-back bonus point triumphs and a win over Namibia in their last match will ensure a passage to the knockout stage. A handling error by prop Ramiro Herrera resulted in the first scrum of the match five minutes into the first half and the Tongans scored the first try of the match in the seventh minute after a patient build-up and they got the first five-pointer through flyhalf Kurt Morath but the conversion went straight to the left-hand upright and bounced away.
The men in red continued going back into the 22 metre area, continuing to press ahead leaving the Argentines with very little possession and even less territory in the opening 20 minutes. Daniel Hourcade’s side was awarded a penalty in the 17th minute and the kick from Nicolas Sanchez went between the posts. A fantastic try came in the 20th minute came when fullback Joaquin Tuculet crashed over as the South Americans began to show their experience and the conversion was good from Sanchez.
Another try came as Hourcade’s players played the ball through the hands and create an overlap out wide and it was wing Juan Imhoff who scored. Sanchez adds edhe conversion and Argentina was 17-5 up. There was a bit of a lull in play as the Pacific Islanders looked to stem the tide.
A penalty to the south sea side 10 minutes before half-time helped the islanders cut the deficit thanks to Morath’s boot and it was 20-8 before the Sea Eagles scored a great try in the 38th minute when 130kg Tongan loosehead prop Soane Tonga’uiha crashed over and received the TMO’s thumbs up but the conversion was away to the left. Tonga started the second half with a Morath penalty to move within four points. A minute later, all the hard work was undone as Argentina won a penalty and Sanchez made no mistake.
Moments later, poor discipline came to play from the Pacific players as they gave Sanchez yet another chance from 45 metres out but he missed. However the flyhalf scored his country’s third try of the match in the 65th minute which saw Diego Maradona celebrating in the crowd. Changes galore to both sides were made goign into the final 15 minutes. Tonga was throwing everything into attack and was awarded a penalty from which it set up the line out.
It all came down to nought as the Argentines turned over possession and hacked it downfield. Los Pumas ended the match on a high scoring another try from reserve hooker Julian Montoya and the touchline conversion from Sanchez was good to make it 38-16. The South Americans placed the final nail in the coffin after Santiago Cordero rounded off a very good performance before the final whistle and Sanchez added the extras to wrap up a good win.