|Photo UAR: Juan Imhoff scored the winner|
2013 has not been easy for Argentina and this November tour is not amongst the most memorable, however it was at least finished off with a win in rainy Rome as the Pumas took their chances well to beat Italy 19-14.
After Italy took a 6-0 lead, Argentina found out the advantage of having an excellent try scoring winger in the lineup as Juan Imhoff duly despatched a chance created by fly half Nicolas Sanchez. The try was Imhoff's 12th for the Pumas ending a seven game try drought, surely he must be given some faith by the new coach to hold onto a starting position for a sustained period now.
The game remained topsy turvy with sides exchanging the lead in penalties, but Italy's goal kicker Tommaso Allan was not nearly as accurate as Sanchez was for Argentina. The Pumas have also lost games in similar circumstances of missed kicks in recent times but with Sanchez kicking it is no longer an issue. It got to a point where Allan's misses forced Italy to take kicks to touch instead of kicking for goal.
In the second half after sustained pressure in mauls that led to Ayerza being sin binned, Italy eventually got a try through a cross kick bouncing the way of young centre Michele Campagnaro. But the Pumas nicked it back soon after scrum penalty just near halfway.
With the match still being 50/50 the decisive play was two consecutive errors by two Italian Argentines as Gonzalo Canale got charged down in his own half and Luciano Orquera fumbled collecting the ball and was forced into touching the ball down past his own line. Soon after Sanchez kept his cool to get a calmly slotted drop goal which effectively secured the game against a pretty blunt Italian attacking force which Argentina successfully nullified for the final phases.
With conditions as they were and both sides struggling and desperate for a win this game was never going to be a classic. The win won't be remembered as anything special in the long term but will hopefully pick up morale for the fresh head coach to be appointed for next year.
As for Italy, they have had a bad November with a fortunate win over Fiji who were yellow carded out of the match and a big loss to Australia which adds to a 0-3 record in the June tests. They have had eleven tests this year with ten against higher ranked sides. Perhaps it is time the Italians had a split of two PNC opponents and one Rugby Championship opponent per year as they now haven't won a November game against a Rugby Championship side since 1998. Argentina are now on a six game winning streak on Italian soil.