The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Argentina beat Samoa to get into Rugby World Cup quarterfinals contention

Associated Press Saturday, 23 September 2023, 06:25 Last update: about 10 months ago

Argentina was back in the quarterfinals hunt after defeating Samoa 19-10 in a bruising, scrappy Rugby World Cup pool match on Friday.

The Argentines needed to win after the dismal opening defeat to England, and used the 13-day break to get their heads on right for the Samoans, who had only a six-day turnaround.

Argentina even denied Samoa a losing bonus point when Nicolas Sanchez booted the margin beyond seven with a last-minute penalty from almost halfway.

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Emiliano Boffelli scored all of Argentina's points for a 13-3 lead in a rainy first half and his third penalty after the rain passed extended their lead to 16-3 with 24 minutes to go.

But with five minutes left, Samoa replacement hooker Sama Malolo barged over for a converted try, and Argentina’s supporters were finally hit with a mute button. But Samoa couldn’t threaten again, the Argentines in the crowd resumed singing and dancing, and Sanchez delivered the finishing blow.

“Against England we didn't do what we were supposed to do. Today we did it pretty well,” Argentina captain Julian Montoya said. “It's a massive victory for us, very important for our tournament.”

Argentina has Pool D games left against Chile and Japan to rise higher in the standings, while Samoa was still in the playoffs picture but will have to beat England in two weeks.

The first half could have hardly gone better for a more composed Argentina.

Samoa fullback Duncan Paia'aua was sin-binned in the first minute for playing Argentina's Santiago Carreras in the air.

Christian Leali'ifano didn’t relieve the pressure on Samoa when he failed to take a free kick from the mark then missed touch. Argentina's counterattack exploited Paia'aua's absence when the ball was spread to both wings and Boffelli went over. He made the conversion and a penalty kick for 10-0 after 25 minutes.

Leali'ifano had three penalty kicks and nailed only one, off the crossbar, in a poor kicking game all around.

Boffelli wasn't missing though, and his third straight goalkick made it 13-3.

Two minutes from halftime, an excellent kick-chase gave Samoa a close-range penalty but it wanted seven points. Argentina stole the lineout but Samoa got a five-meter scrum. The Pumas, playing Samoa for the first time in 18 years, read the Samoans, and a blindside burst by scrumhalf Jonathan Taumateine was smothered by Marcos Kremer.

“Argentina executed their gameplan really well and we weren't able to adapt,” Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua said. “We knew that Boffelli could slot them from anywhere and getting that yellow card early on didn't help us.”

The rain stopped for the second half and Argentina continued to turn the error-prone Samoans over and around.

A Pumas rolling maul was repelled then lineout tap ball looked to have Boffelli headed for a second try, but Ulupano Seuteni made a try-saving tackle and had to leave for a head injury check.

Boffelli still kicked another penalty then finally missed a shot, but he was in the middle of the action again when he swooped on a Samoa grubber kick in front of his posts with Tumua Manu bearing down.

Samoa finally threatened the tryline with minutes left and got Malolo across for his third try in two games, but Sanchez, off the bench for his 99th cap, ensured Argentina had the last say.

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