Pumas power way to first title since 2011
The Classic Pumas delivered a typically physical performance full of pride and passion last night to overcome a strong New Zealand outfit 15-5 and record their first World Rugby Classic title since 2011.
The Argentinian side took their chances in a game of few clear-cut opportunities and made the best use of the strong wind that swept across North Field.
It was a final not for the faint hearted; and one that saw two totally committed sets of players leave nothing in the tank.
A scoreless first half in some pretty filthy weather conditions was more a credit to each team’s brutal defence than a lack of imagination.
But this was a tight affair of small margins; an attritional encounter that played out in the middle third of the pitch.
The deadlock was only broken ten minutes into the second half with a moment of Argentine opportunism.
Bernardo Stortorni seized on an interception in the midfield and cantered home to score and put his side 5-0 up. The conversion was missed but the score gave the Pumas the momentum to start to dictate play.
Their half backs used the wind well and put the rampaging Argentinian pack of forwards on the front foot.
After 14 minutes the New Zealand damn broke again with a storming run from Antonio Ahualli, who took two defenders with him as he crashed over under the posts from short range.
Trailing 12-0 the New Zealanders were forced to take on a more fast and loose approach, but the Argentine defence held strong.
While the last 20 minutes were mostly a huge defensive effort from the Pumas in the face of mounting pressure, they managed to sneak a penalty within kicking range for Frederico Seora who was able to stretch the lead to 15-0 in the final quarter.
The game was done by the time the Kiwis finally breached the resilient blue and white line with Daniel Iosefo crossing in the corner.
The final whistle soon followed; a cue for spontaneous Argentine singing that would echo long into the night after their famous 15-5 win over the All Blacks.
While the final may not have been an exhibition of fast flowing, running rugby it was a testament to the quality of the sides that now grace North Field every November.
The standard and physicality of the encounters has never been as high, but equally important, the camaraderie between the sides remains as strong as ever.