The quarter finals are upon us and so the brutal knockout stage of an epic RWC.
Both sides looked settled early with space being found on attack by both, down their respective right hand edges. Sustained right hand edge pressure for the FISMs saw a 5th minute penalty, although Boffelli pulled the attempt to the left, leaving scores at 0-0.
One thing evident early in the match were the Welsh jerseys. The WRU’s decision to save money and attaching playing numbers with sticky tape would prove rather embarrassing and a complete farging disaster.
Welsh #9 Davis dropped a simple pass just on 10 minutes in when Morgan put him into space, there was still a defender deep for Los Pumas, but it seemed a real chance blown by the halfback.
Another attacking set piece move from a 14th minute Welsh scrum on their far left looked to get Welsh rocket, Reece Zammit into space and while that move didn’t pan out a couple of phases later George North made half a break, popped a lovely pass to #9 Davis, who then passed to Dan Biggar to score untouched. Biggar duly converted, Wales 7. Los Pumas 0.
Then, something I’ve never seen in a rugby match before; ref Jaco Peyper called the skippers in after the Welsh try and conversion to advise them he had torn a fetlock and would be replaced by Karl Dickson. Later reports confirmed Jaco had been humanely putdown behind the grandstand. Our condolences to his family.
After some aimless kicking, a 20th minute penalty to the Welsh for offside saw Biggar slot the attempt. Wales 10. FISMs 0.
Poor Welsh hands would once again cruel a golden attacking threat on their right, however they had advantage for a ‘tackle off the ball by Argentina. Biggar would go the the corner, but a poor lineout and subsequent penalty to Argentina relieved the pressure.
Wales would get another penalty attempt at the 28th minute, 45m out, directly in front and by his lofty standards it was a poor strike, missing wide left. Scores remaining 10-0 Wales.
Yet another gift attacking lineout opportunity in Los Pumas 22 came unstuck with a poor throw, gifting the FISMS the chance to roost it down field.
A 36th minute, 45m penalty kick for touch put Argentina only 10m out form the Welsh line. Some sustained phase play lead to a penalty to the right of the posts, which Boffelli kicked for Argentina’s first points. Wales 10 – 3.
In the shadows of halftime, a monstrous clearance kick of approx 70m, from Los Pumas #13 Lucio Cinti, saw Santiago Carreras twinkling toes put the his side deep on attack. After some regression with the ball. Argentina again exposed Wales on their left, only to see the ball spilled, Cubelli got hit off the ball and then the fight looking to happen, Tomas Lavanini, got involved escalating matters. Cool heads prevailed. Boffelli nailed the penalty and the sides headed for oranges at 10-6.
One can only say that Wales really let themselves down in H1. They had 6 line breaks to 2, looked the more dangerous, but a combination of dropped ball, poor passes and poor lineout execution invited Los Pumas to stay in the contest. Welsh #9, Davis, in my opinion, was exceedingly poor and contributed several errors at crucial times.
A pre-existing commitment sees me needing to rely on William Nathanson of rugby.com.au for second half highlights (I know and I apologise)
‘Boffelli kicked a third penalty at the start of the second period as Reffell was caught offside and then took Argentina into the lead with a fourth shortly after when Dewi Lake, on at hooker for the misfiring Ryan Elias, was penalised.
Replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams reversed the momentum, dummying from the base of a ruck and scooting in under the posts, Biggar converting to make it 17-12.
A misjudged kick from Rees-Zammit put the pressure back on Wales, Argentina opting for a series of kicks to the corner.
Prop Joel Sclavi, with his first touch of the ball, was eventually driven over for a try, Boffelli converting to edge Argentina two points ahead.
Los Pumas were then penalised at the scrum, Wales kicked deep but as they threatened Williams knocked on and the ball was cleared.
North and Rio Dyer came racing back up the pitch, Matias Moroni producing a dramatic try-saving tackle on Rees-Zammit in the corner.
Argentine fly-half Nicolas Sanchez put the icing on the cake with an interception of a Sam Costelow pass for a try, Boffelli converting.
Another veteran, hooker Agustin Creevy, then snatched a turnover at the death, Boffelli making no mistake from the kicking tee in a final penalty’.
The Game Changer.
With time running out and Los Pumas just with their nose in front by 2, Wales looked to launch an attack from just inside their own half, when replacement, 34yo Nicolas Sanchez, read the move, inserted himself at the last moment, unseen by Wales, into the passing channel and his little legs scampered to the try line, dotting down under the posts and sealing a deserved win for Argentina. The scenes of his team mates forming a ‘human hill’ on top of Sanchez immediately after scoring the try were awesome!
The Man of the Match/Standout Player
There was no clear MotM standout, however I though Santiago Carreras did enough to win the ugly trophy.
Argentina go on to face the All Blacks in Paris next week.
TRIES: Biggar, T. Williams
CONS: Biggar 2/2
PENS: Biggar 1/2
TRIES: Sclavi, Sanchez
CONS: Boffelli 2/2
PENS: Boffelli 4/5, Sanchez 1/1