A great opportunity has come and gone as the Argentine under 20 side lost its third and final pool match in the IRB Junior World Championship in France yesterday. The South Americans lacked cohesion in the first half which enabled Wales to build a healthy lead and one which would prove decisive. Wales held a 16-0 half time lead which was based on accurate goalkicking from flyhalf Sam Davies and a well worked try scored by fullback Hallam Amos. The try came from a well-worked move but it was also made possible by virtue of a lapse in the Argenitne defensive line and a careless attempted covering tackle from Santiago Cordero. The Pumitas fullback went high and was fended off. Had he entered the tackle with the correct body position then the try would have been prevented.
The second half saw a different Argentine team take the field and one that got the better of Wales. It came too late though as Wales held a 16-0 lead at the interval. Promising openside flanker Pablo Matera got Argentina into the game with a pick-and-go try early in the secondhalf. Having scored under the posts Rosario flyhalf Patricio Fernández was able to slot a simple conversion. Fernández then made it a three point match as he kicked two penalties to make it 16-13. Davies, though, put Wales clear with two penalties of his own to seemingly seal the match. Argentina looked out after losing a player to the bin and needed something special.
It came in the form of Cordero who scored a try reminiscent of Jonah Lomu as he scored a try from well inside his own half. Cordero had run thirty metres before he was lined up by Davies. He had a player in support who was not in the clear. He was unmarked but would likely have been caught. Cordero thus made the decision to attract the defenders and look to off-load. He needed not pass, however, as he ran over Davies to score his second try of the tournament. Fenández landed the sideline conversion after it rebounded off the up-rights to go through the posts.
With three minutes remaining Argentina needed to score again and had to do so will without the yellow carded secondrower Guido Petti Pagadizabal. Wales though were playing in Argentina´s half and with a second Pumitas player yellow carded the result was secured. Replacement back Juan Pablo Aguirre was yellow carded in the final minute for a dangerous tackle which gave Davies the chance to end the match and secure a five point win. He succeeded as Wales booked a place in the Semi Finals by eliminating Argentina 25-20.
Argentina cannot win the title but it can still finish fifth. Los Pumitas will face Australia on June 18 and the winner will face either Ireland or France who will contest the other match in the battle to finish fifth. Argentina defeated both Australia and France in the 2012 edition of the IRB Juniro World Championship. Both Matera and Cordero featured and impressed in the tournament and were singled out as potential future Pumas. Cordero made the Pumas November tour of Europe but did not feature. He did, however, make the Pampas XV squad and played earlier this year. With Argentina facing Georgia next weekend in San Juan Santiago Phelan just might be tempted to call Cordero home and have him make his test debut against the East Europeans.