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Pumas show teeth against Eagles

Under the spotlight: the Classic Lions and Rugby Italian Classic XV contest a lineout during their opening game of the World Rugby Classic at North Field, National Sports Centre, last night. The Lions won 20-13 and will face the Classic Pumas in the semi-finals tomorrow night(Photographs by Blaire Simmons)

The Classic Pumas issued an ominous warning to their rivals after thumping USA Classic Eagles 41-7 in the World Rugby Classic at North Field, National Sports Centre, last night.

Argentina, the defending champions, helped themselves to six tries during the lopsided affair. It should be a sterner test, however, against the Classic Lions in the semi-finals on Thursday night.

The Lions were made to work in their 20-13 victory over Rugby Italian Classic XV in the opening match last night.

Rodolfo Ventura, the Pumas manager, said he was encouraged by his team’s try-laden performance and believes they will only get better.

“Fortunately, we were able to fix our scheme and things went OK,” he said. “We improved as the game wore on.

“[USA Eagles] are a physical side and against an opponent like that, it’s difficult to find your own order.

“We had the opportunity to play our game, to do what we wanted to do, and we scored a lot of tries.”

Ventura, who has been involved in the Classic as a player and manager since 1998, believes the comfortable victory will serve as a timely confidence boost ahead of the Lions clash.

“It’s a very good way of beginning and now we will look towards the Classic Lions,” he said. “They went through the same process [against Italy] and they improved, too.”

The Pumas led 22-7 at the interval through tries from Rafael Carballo, Federico Bock and Emiliano Castagnet. Ian Carpenter made it 7-7 for the Eagles with their only try of the game.

The Pumas continued to swarm the Eagles in the second half, scoring another three tries courtesy of Castagnet, Mauricio Gimenez and Mauro Comuzzi.

In the opening game, the Lions made a lethargic start, falling behind to an early try from Italy’s Daniele Pesapane.

Ramiro Pez created more daylight between his side and the Lions by kicking the conversion and a penalty moments later to make it 10-0.

The Lions began to find their rhythm, though, stretching the Italians defence with a free-flowing passing move, allowing Gareth King to wriggle his way through to score.

Ceri Sweeney kicked the extra points, although the Lions found themselves trailing 13-7 at half-time after Pez added to his points tally with a penalty.

Sweeney reduced the gap to three points by kicking a penalty of his own early in the second period before full back Richard Carter broke through to give the Lions the lead for the first time in the match.

Tempers flared when scrum half Andrew Jenkins became embroiled in a heated exchange with a member of the opposition bench after taking exemption to an off-the-ball incident with an Italian player.

When matters finally settled, the Lions pulled further ahead through another penalty from the reliable boot of Sweeney to seal the victory.

The Classic continues tomorrow night when France Classic Rugby face Classic Springboks in the Plate semi-finals at 7.30pm before Ireland Rugby Legends play Rugby Canada in the Classic semi-finals at 8.30pm.