Successive Classic crown for Pumas
The Classic Pumas successfully retained their World Rugby Classic crown in scintillating fashion after a dominant 25-0 victory over the Irish Rugby Legends at North Field yesterday.
After taming the Classic Lions in a bruising 11-6 semi-final success on Thursday, the Pumas lived up to their favourites tag, running in three tries against a depleted Irish side, who had returned to the tournament in some style after a 25-year absence.
Ireland were handed the perfect chance to get off to the perfect start after an even six minutes but Gary Brown spurned the opportunity, firing his penalty attempt narrowly wide of the posts.
He was made to rue the miss just four minutes later as a free-flowing move on the right wing resulted in Federico Luis Castilla crashing over in the corner to open the scoring. Just as he had in the semi-final against the Lions, Gonzalo Gutiérrez Taboada once again showcased his kicking composure, successfully converting the resulting conversion to extend the Pumas lead to 7-0.
Having seized the advantage, the Pumas proceeded to dictate much of the opening 30 minutes as both sides battled against the driving rain, which had made the conditions difficult to construct intricate attacks.
Despite the adverse conditions, Argentina managed to extend their lead ahead of the interval as Taboada was gifted a seemingly simple penalty attempt from a central position 18 yards from the posts. The full back duly accepted, sending his kick sailing between the posts and his side into the break in control.
The second-half started in contrasting fashion to the end of the first as the Irish Legends rallied to enjoy a greater share of possession without managing to find a breakthrough.
However, after an even 12 minutes of the second half they were powerless to prevent the Pumas from extending their lead further as Taboada added another relatively easy penalty to gift his side a 13-0 advantage.
Just as they had in the first half, Argentina regained their grip on the game and added a second try just four minutes later. Receiving the ball on the right-hand side, Sebastian Crispo evaded two Irish challenges before going over in the corner. Taboada stepped up to demonstrate exactly why he finished as the tournaments top scorer, brilliantly adding a difficult conversion from the right-hand byline to take the scoreline to 20-0 and the Pumas to the verge of title glory.
Ireland again tried to respond, preventing any further score over the proceeding 10 minutes as the game entered its final stages.
However, the Pumas were not to be denied a final say on proceedings as they capped off an impressive display with one final try courtesy of the marauding Fransisco Merello.
Uncharacteristically Tabboada failed to add the extra two points from the resulting conversion but it did nothing to dampen the celebrations at the final whistle as the night and Classic trophy belonged to the Classic Pumas for a second successive year.