The final match before Argentina makes its debut in The Rugby Championship has been and gone. The South Americans completed its two match warm-up series with Stade Français with a satisfactory 31-17 victory at the Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao López in Santa Fé. The three tries to two win was clean with Argentina able to put into practice what it had been training for.
It was not a perfect performance though and Argentina won without hooker Agustín Creevy who left the field in just the second minute of play after fracturing a rib in a two man crunch tackle. The Montpellier forward will now no longer be able to play in Argentina´ debut in The Rugby Championship and will in fact miss the first two matches. He was replaced by Eusebio Guiñazú who can play at both prop and hooker and, interestingly, has previously played rugby in South Africa and may prove useful in interpreting the South African lineout calls which tend to be made in afrikaans. Guiñazú is now all but assured of starting at hooker against South Africa with Santiago Phelan likely to draft in Bruno Postiglioni as the replacement hooker.
The team that started the match against Stade Français was being closely analyzed by the selectors with the same XV being favored to start in Cape Town next Saturday. They all needed to deliver impressive performances and a number of players indeed did impress. The three try scorers were amongst the best Pumas players. The first try was scored by Biarritz secondrower Manuel Carizza who went over from a pick-and-go on the Stade Français try line. He stood talk as a player hungry for The Rugby Championship. He combined well with Patricio Albacete in what could potentially be the best secondrow combination in the Southern Hemisphere.
Carriza was not the first try scorer of the game however. Rather the first try went to the visitors with Hugo Bonneval finishing off a break that started from a turnover on the Stade Français 22. Having won the ball Stade Français fed Felipe Contepomi for what would be a regulation kick into touch but he saw that the Pumas defense had not yet formed properly and ran forward to where he found tight forwards and was able to put in a deft backward pass to create the try. Scrumhalf Jêrome Fillol landed the conversion with made it 7-6. Juan Martín Hernández had a good day with the boot and had started the scoring with two early penalties in the 8th and 13th minutes. He also converted Carizza´ try which made the scores 14-7 at the interval.