Argentina fire rivals signal of intent
Classic Pumas 40 France Classic Rugby 8
Reigning champions Argentina sent out an ominous warning to their World Rugby Classic rivals with victory over France Classic Rugby at North Field, National Sports Centre, last night.
The hotly tipped favourites kicked off their pursuit for a third straight title in perfect fashion, running in six tries, building on a 12-3 half-time lead to blitz the France in the second half and run out convincing winners.
“The first game is always very difficult because the team has to get accustomed to the tournament,” Rodolfo Ventura, the Argentina manager, said.
“The second half we seemed to gain control of the match and that was really pleasing to see.
“I didn't expect to have such a convincing win in the first match of the tournament and especially against a very good France side.
“It is the perfect start for us. We have to keep focused and take things step by step and hopefully go all the way again.”
The defending champions got off a blistering start scoring their first try after just two minutes as a prolonged period of pressure, resulted in the highly impressive Gonzalo Gutierrez Taboada racing clear to score under the posts. Taboada also added the extras to gift his side an early 7-0 advantage.
After a ten-minute lull in action, France hit back to reduce the deficit to four points through Yannick Lafforgue's cleanly struck penalty from 35 yards.
However, Argentina quickly regained control and scored their second try just six minutes later after some intricate play from left to right. The ball eventually found it's way out to winger Mauro Comuzzi who used his pace to run clear of the defensive line to score in the corner.
On this occasion Taboada failed to add the extras, sending the difficult conversion from the right-hand side narrowly wide of the posts as Argentina took a 12-3 lead into the break.
It was the French who came out after the restart rejuvenated and set about putting pressure on the opposition from the get go. Their endeavours were rewarded seven minutes into the second half, with the try of the match through Julien Saubade's individual brilliance.
Collecting the ball on the left wing, Saubade set himself up with a chip and chase over the defence, winning the foot race to crash over in the corner. Lafforgue sent the difficult conversion wide of the posts as Argentina's advantage stood at four points.
However Ventura's side quickly seized the initiative to run in a further four unanswered tries to quash any chance of a France comeback.
The first of which came in the 40th minute as man of the match Taboada break clear to race through and score, before converting his own try to take the score to 19-8.
Just three minutes later they broke through again, this time Bernardo Stortoni brilliantly evading two tackles to saunter over the line. Taboada's conversion kissed the upright on its way over to take the scoreline to 26-8.
Refusing to rest on their laurels, Argentina continued in search of further scoring opportunities with a fifth try duly arriving with five minutes remaining as Taboada completed his hat-trick. He also added the simple conversion in front of the posts to take the score to 33-8.
As the clock ticked over into added on time, there was just enough time for Prop Federico Bock to get his name on the scoresheet, receiving possession 30-yards out before bulldozing his way past the French defence to race clear. Just as he opened the scoring, Taboada fittingly had the final say, adding the easy conversion to take the score to 40-8 and wrap up proceedings.
Tries: Taboada, 2, 40, 55, Comuzzi, 18, Stortoni, 43, Bock, 59. Conversion: Taboada, 2, 40, 43, 55.
Tries: Saubade, 37. Penalties: Lafforgue, 12.