Thursday, December 29, 2011

Los Pumas World Cup 2011 Review: New Zealand vs Argentina

Seven days after defeating Georgia, Los Pumas faced off against World Cup hosts, New Zealand in the fourth and Final Quarter Final. The winner would go through to face Australia at the Semi Final stage. The host nation was the only undefeated team still in the tournament as the three other Semi Finalists (Australia, France and Wales) had all lost a during the pool stage. This underlined New Zealand´s position as favorites to win the tournament and the All Blacks were expected to be too strong for Argentina in the Quarter Final match at Auckland. Most of the talk during the week leading up to the match had been about Argentina´s late win against Scotland and the post World Cup inclusion of Argentina in what would be an expanded Tri Nations.

New Zealand had been rocked by the loss of star flyhalf, Dan Carter in the lead up to the All Blacks match vs Canada. But Argentina were hardly entering the game in the best possible manner. Argentina were without their own star flyhalf as Juan Martín Hernández missed the entire World Cup. Argentina were also missing two French based backrowers to injury - Juan Fernández Lobbe and Alvaro Galindo which meant two of Argentina´s starting backrowers vs New Zealand were Argentine based players. A loss of players, however, is no excuse in a World Cup, less so in a Quarter Final and Argentina crafted a game plan to try to topple the All Blacks. The plan proved to be highly effective on defence as New Zealand struggled to break the line and took over three quarters of the match to score a try. 

Leonardo Senatore on the break
Argentina only gave away five first half penalties but the penalties proved to be crucial as All Blacks scrumhalf, Piri Weepu was able to see that the All Blacks were in control on the scoreboard.  Leading 6-0 after 29 minutes the home side was made to fear as Argentina scored a superb try through Tucumáns Julio Farias Cabello. The backrower had dived over from a  ruck close to the line which was the result of a linebreak from Los Pumas 8, Leonardo Senatore. Senatore had broken past Kieran Read and Richie McCaw from a scrum two metres inside Argentina´s half. After getting past the two All Blacks backrowers, Senatore passed well to Felipe Contepomi who gave a hot potato pass to Marcelo Bosch who similary fed Santiago Fernández who in turn spun it to Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga who was tackled two metres short of the try line. Farias´s try was converted by Contepomi from outwide which gave Argentina a 7-6 lead. 

Weepu added another penalty shortly after the start of the secondhalf but Argentina were able to make it a two point game following an impressive 55 metre penalty from centre Marcelo Bosch. The All Blacks then looked to close out the match with Weepu adding two more penalties with New Zealand holding an 18-10 lead in the 60th minute. Argentina were unable to get the try they needed and with New Zealand finally coming within range of scoring their first try, Rodríguez Gurruchaga went for an intercept rather than stay in the defensive line. He failed and Kieran Read went over in the 67th minute for New Zealand´s first try. The result was secured as Argentina were by now too far behind. New Zealand were able to score one more, however, as with three minutes remaning Cory Jane passed a miracle ball to Brad Thorn who went over to score.  The final score of 33-10 was not an accurate reflection of the match. Argentina had defended brilliantly despite losing scrumhalf, Nicolás Vergallo for ten minutes to a yellow card. Los Pumas completed a total of 134 tackles in the match compared to the All Blacks´ total of 54.  

Argentina exited the World Cup having had a mixed tournament but one that was, nevertheless, successful. Los Pumas had eliminated Scotland at the pool stage - something never done before and had scored some special tries. In general Los Pumas were a young side and the vast majority of players are expected to be playing at the next World Cup, England 2015. The players will have the chance to develop and Argentina should be stronger following the long awaited addition of the South Americans to the Tri Nations in what has since been titled The Rugby Championship. Argentina´s exit from New Zealand 2011 suggests Argentina will be entering The Rugby Championship to do much more than simply make up the numbers.

                            Full Match

                                  Match Highlights


  1. Nigel Owens and Craig Joubert let Richie McCaw do what he likes.

    1. I agree, the Pumas were consistently penalised for doing the same things that McCaw was doing all match

      Mario Ledesma also noted this