Thursday, December 1, 2011

Los Pumas World Cup 2011 Review: England vs Argentina

Argentina´s national rugby team, Los Pumas, had a satisfactory year in 2011 as the side succeeded in reaching the knock-out stages of the World Cup and ended the year ranked higher in IRB World Rankings than it started. Argentina´s record of official international matches was low with only one official match occuring before the World Cup as Los Pumas visited Cardiff to take on the resurgent Welsh at the Millenium Stadium. On that day the homeside were able to hold off Argentina in what was a thirty minute raid as the South Americans dominanted the first half only to be unable to cross the line. Pumas´ mistakes gifted Wales a late try in the first half and the visitors were not the same again after the interval. The way they had played underlined that the team was not only heading in the right direction but had come quite some way from the performances produced in Europe in November 2010.
Santiago Fernandez Santiago Fernandez of Argentina dispatches the ball during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Argentina and England at Otago Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Pumas inside centre, Santi Fernández delivering a pass

Argentina faced England in the first Rugby World Cup match for both sides on September 10 at the new, indoor stadium in Dunedin. A similar performace from the first half vs Wales was repeated by the South Americans as Argentina had the better of play. In front of a capacity crowd Argentina seemed to be returning to the form of four years earlier when Argentina famously knocked over France to send massive warnings to everyone in the first match of Rugby World Cup 2007. Argentina came close to scoring a try on several occassions early in the match. Tighthead prop, Juan Figallo was an inch away from the try line while captain, Felipe Contepomi went very close before being tackled and being subsequently forced from the match due a rib injury. He was forced from the field as was Argentina´s outside centre, Gonzalo Tiesi. The pair were replaced by Marcelo Bosch and Juan Imhoff with both replacements putting in quality performances. Bosch played at both centre and flyhalf during the match as he exchanged duties with Santiago Fernández. He made one clean linebreak which very nearly resulted in a try.

England were able to defend well but did give away penalties. Contepomi and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga were both used to kick the goals but neither kicker was able to kick to his usual standards with both missing kicks they would usually be expected to get. England´s ace kicker, Jonny Wilkinson also had an off-night and complained that the Gilbert balls used a the tournament were poor in quality. With so many missed kicks the scores remainied low throughout the match and it took a late try to replacement English scrumhalf, Ben Youngs, to shake up the match as England took the lead for the first time in the contest. Argentina responded by playing its most attacking rugby of the night with Imhoff going close. He was playing in just his second test match and was still an amateur player but showed why Santiago Phelan had selected him. Right winger, Gonzalo Camacho also had a strong match as England´s fancied wingers were kept quiet.

England´s four point win meant Argentina picked up a bonus point for losing by less than seven points. It meant that every other match was a must win, starting seven days latter in Invercargill as Los Pumas took on Romania. The match will be detailed in seven days time.

1 comment:

  1. I wish Contepomi and Rodríguez packed their kicking boots for this match, if Todeschini was playing ...

    a great opportunity to win this match due to Wilkinson's own kicking woes

    I thought Argentina were to conservative in this match, although it was the first match I think the Pumas overestimated England and should have had more confidence to attack, when they did start playing with ball in hand at 75 minutes they looked good

    I disagree regarding the Wales match, Argentina offered nothing after 50 minutes and looked ver unfit, at that point I thought they were going to struggle at this World Cup

    but to be fair to the squad, the time together really made a big difference, and they were better than I thought