Argentina hold off Canada to remain in Rugby Classic title hunt
Argentina 10 Canada 7
Argentina held off a stern test from Canada to seal a hard-earned victory and maintain their World Rugby Classic title push .
In what proved a cagey encounter throughout, a late Juan Cruz Gonzalez penalty was all that separated the sides after Lawrence Ross’s converted try for Canada in the second half cancelled out Mauro Comuzzi’s converted try.
The victory made it back-to-back wins for table-topping Argentina but also set up an exciting winner-takes-all clash against defending champions France, who recordied their second victory of the tournament with a 10-5 success over the Lions Legends.
“I’m not completely pleased because we didn’t do well at certain times in the game, but we got the win,” said Argentina coach Rodolfo Ventura, whose side will be aiming to win back the title they last captured in 2019.
“They didn’t allow us to play our game and when you are not totally comfortable in the match, the main thing is to try to win and thankfully we did that. We are still in a position to try to get our title back and that is great.”
It was Canada who started the brighter and they created the first opportunity to break the deadlock in the ninth minute, but Derek Daypuck could not capitalise, sending his penalty attempt wide of the right upright.
With momentum shifting in the latter stages of the half, Argentina were then rewarded for their dogged defensive work as they got themselves ahead in the 23rd minute.
A cross-field kick was misjudged by Galen Postash-Kooyman allowing Comuzzi to seize on the opportunity and score in the left corner. Gonzalez added the extras to give his side a 7-0 lead at the interval.
Argentina were reduced to 14 men just three minutes after the restart after Javier Agnacio Alienelli was sent to the sin bin for five minutes and Canada wasted no time in capitalising on the numerical advantage as Ross went over in the right corner four minutes later. Daypuck kicked the conversion to level the scores.
Although Argentina’s side were restored to its full contingent, it was Canada who should have got themselves in front in the 40th minute.
Racing on to a kick over the top, Morgan Findlay collected the ball but managed to trip over his own feet with the try line no more than ten metres away.
To compound matters, Gonzalez then kicked what proved to be the decisive penalty with five minutes remaining.
“That was the best performance I’ve ever seen from a Canadian team at the Classic,” said Canada coach Jonathon Goldie.
“We were given a few bites of the cherry but I can’t fault the heart of the players, they played against a very good opposition.”
• In the opening match of the evening, Italy gained their first victory of the tournament after overcoming USA Classic Eagles 35-7.
Italy took a 23-7 advantage into the interval courtesy of tries from Giambattista Venditti and Mauro Paghera, with Ramiro Pez adding two conversions and two penalties, while Nicola Benetti also kicked a penalty.
A Brice Schilling try for the Eagles, which was converted by Ross Bellachi, had reduced the deficit to 10-7.
The second half proved one-sided with Luciano Dublino and Pez scoring further tries, the latter converting his own to wrap up the points.
Eagles remain bottom of the table having also lost their opening match 57-0 to Argentina.