The Waratahs Gen Blue team slugged out a tough 24-all draw against the Argentine Pampas XV at the TG Millner field yesterday. Although the locals had not attempted penalty goals in 79 minutes, they tried one to win on the bell; but it missed.
The match was an opportunity for the Waratahs Super Rugby reserve players to start in a match during a bye week. For the Pampas XV it was a good hit-out before starting their campaign to win the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Challenge starting in Fiji on March 10.
It was a game of two halves !!
The Pampas XV started strongly as though to impress Los Pumas’ national coach Daniel Hourcade who was at the ground.
One of the recent stars of Puma rugby, left winger Manuel Montero scored in the corner early, after being set up by 13 Matias Moroni.
With 19 of their 27-man match squad capped in test matches, the Argentines looked sharper and more rugby-wise but Gen Blue scored next. When they kicked for the line instead at goal they mauled the ball over the line and 7 Pat McCutcheon dotted down.
The Pampas’ scrum was looking ominous and after a free kick and one of their many line breaks, impressive lock Guido Petti Pagadizabal, who started on debut against Italy last November, scored after backing up.
After one of several Gen Blue scum infringements the visitors advanced up field. When they threw the ball deliberately long at a lineout, 7 Tomas Lezana, gathered and dished it out for a try to right winger Ramiro Moyana.
The Pampas XV deserved credit for their scrum dominance, but to be fair to the home props, Paddy Ryan and Jeremy Tilse, Sam Lousi and Jed Holloway were scarcely experienced scrummagers in the second row.
There was only one conversion successful up to this point and at the drinks break the Pampas XV led Gen Blue 17-5.
There were more scrum woes for the home team in the second quarter and after Moroni kicked through he scored. The Gen Blues were settling though and things looked more promising for the second half.
Half-time score Pampas XV 24 – Gen Blue 5.
They were promising alright—they didn’t let the Pampas XV score another point.
Not that the visitors didn’t have chances after the break: their no. 8 Facundo Isa was scragged into touch near the corner post and were pressured into errors on other promising occasions.
Gen Blue had their own chance early, but they dropped the ball near the Pampas’ goal posts.
Both sides gave their reserves a run and the Gen Blue bench lifted the team as they did two weeks ago against ACT A.
After 13 minutes Peter Betham scored. If the lead-up ball work was good the conversion attempt by 9 Brendan McKibbin was a horror, only to be matched by the visitors’ restart kick which landed not far from the kicker and behind him.
Gen Blue was putting more pressure on the Pampas XV at last and when they forced a knock-on, Matt Carraro passed for fullback Andrew Kellaway to score. At the drinks-break Gen Blue was still behind but by just 17-24.
Still looking the better side in the fourth quarter, they dropped the ball in the Pampas 22 but they were under advantage. After some pick and goes no. 8 Tala Gray was found under a pile of bodies holding the ball on the ground and over the line. When the try was converted the score was tied at 24-24.
There were over ten minutes left and the visitors had a man in the bin, but the best the Gen Blue team could do was to get into position for the penalty goal attempt. It was long enough; it was high enough but it went wide.
As usual Pampas XV skipper Tomas Cubelli was a dynamo at scrumhalf before he was rested. The athletic winger Manuel Montero looked like a deadly force on the wing but didn’t get enough ball. Both starting locks played well but one of the best for the Pampas XV was their most recent Puma, 7 Tomas Lezana, who debuted against France in November.
For the Gen Blue team 7. Pat McCutcheon and Jed Holloway (with a locks’ jersey, but playing like a blindside flanker) were two of the few who looked likely before the break. Afterwards Tala Gray was a powerhouse at no. 8.
Recruit Sam Lousi looks the goods as a lineout man and using the ball; if he adds some dominant runs and tackles to his game he will be a fine acquisition.
As they say in the classics it was a game of two halves.
The Pampas XV looked like they were Super Rugby standard in the first half but they faded after the break. They will have to improve their second half play in their next trial against the Blues in Auckland before they go to Fiji.
Conversely the Gen Blue team looked like the Super Rugby reserves they were before oranges; but appeared to be contenders for starting spots in the second half.
For a report of the curtain-raiser involving the NSW Under 20s go to Page 2