Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pumas overcome Georgian challenge with efficient second half performance

Los Pumas
Scrum half Tomás Cubelli showed his class with the only
try of the game, and could have put himself in line for
further recognition from the Pumas selectors
Argentina brought their June test match series to an end on a winning note against Georgia in front of a decent San Juan crowd on Saturday.

The first half of the match was very even with both sides swapping penalties through full backs Martín Bustos Moyano and Beka Tsiklauri, with Georgia leading 12-9 at the break. Neither side was particularly threatening each others line for the match though.

However despite an average first half, Argentina came out in the second half better and quickly added 9 points in the first 13 minutes of the second half to reclaim the led to Georgia now needing to play catch up, and from there on the Pumas never really looked like losing the game.

Georgia stayed within 7 points just about with a drop goal from Tsiklauri and a penalty from Malaghuradze, but it was clear they needed a try to win and the Argentine defence was solid and rarely looked troubled.

In the dying minutes with Georgia trying to chase the game, a poor chip kick from Malaghuradze in his own half gifted the ball away for scrum half Tomás Cubelli to score and seal the match. Overall Argentina won the second half 17-6.

The match was not a classic, it was mostly a whilst strewn affair with neither side looking especially threatening the tryline. The match was also notable for a disproportionate amount of early engages at scrums throughout the match.

For Argentina, the scrum half Cubelli must now be surely be in contention to be in the lineup for the Rugby Championship. Not only was he the best player in this match but he also impressed playing for the CONSUR XV against England, he is one of the few Argentines to have come out of this month with credit. Other mention was for an improved defence from the England games.

Off the field, without being able to find the official attendance, the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario was not full, but it was a decent turnout considering the strength of the Pumas side and their last couple of results. For  a Rugby World Cup to be successful, the host nation needs to have an interest in all sides from New Zealand ranked #1 in the world to the likes of Georgia who are ranked #16.

Argentina also should be commended for giving the chance to a Tier 2 nation which hasn't had a match against a Tier 1 nation outside a World Cup for 10 years. It's matches like these that will help sides like Georgia to learn and lead to better World Cups in the future.

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