Three round into the Pacific Cup the Argentine team, Los Pampas XV, is proving to be amongst the best teams in the competition. The South Americans remain undefeated after knocking-over Samoa A, a team featuring the leading Samoan amateur players. The star performer for the Pampas XV was Matías Orlando who played the match at outside centre and scored two tries.
Three rounds into the Pacific Cup, Argentina´s quest to be granted a place in Super Rugby continues to gain ground. The team that is set to be the first professional rugby outfit from the Western Hemisphere has won three from three in the Pacific Cup. As in earlier rounds coaches Martín Gaitán and Raúl Pérez made a mass of changes to the Pampas XV side for the fixture with only Lucas Noguera Paz, Javier Ortega Desio, Jerónimo de La Fuente and Matías Orlando being retained in the starting lineup from that which defeated the Waratahs A over the weekend.
The much changed side was given a fierce contest from the Samoans as the South Americans were put under immense pressure in what was the hardest fought win of the competition thus far. Indeed Samoa started strongly with hooker Andrew Williams scoring an early try in just the third minute. At the completion of the opening quarter the Pacific Islanders held an 8-5 lead. The South Americans had equalized through a Martín Landajo try in the 8th minute but with a penalty Samoa A went three points clear.
After patient play the South Americans too the lead through a try to mid-fielder Jerónimo de La Fuente which was converted by centre come fly half Javier Rojas. The try was followed quickly by another as Rojas converted a try scored by fullback Santiago Cordero in the 28th minute. Following a yellow card to Rojas Samoa A ended the scoring for the first half with a penalty in the 35th minute which saw Los Pampas XV holding a 19-11 advantage at the interval.
Samoa A cut the lead further at the start of the second half with another penalty but the Argentine side retained the lead and extended it in the 48th minute with Matías Orlando scoring his first of two tries. Rojas added the conversion but Samoa hit back almost immediately with fullback Tila Mealoi scoring in the 50th minute. Samoa then closed in on Los Pampas XV with a penalty in the 67th minute but two late tries saw the South Americans home. Orlando crossed in the 70th minute and back-rower Rodrigo Bruno went over five minute from fulltime.
The final scored of 38-24 was a recovery as following Mealoi´s try it was a two point match with Los Pampas holding a 26-24 lead. The Argentine side can now focus on the next opponents, Tonga A on Wednesday March 19 at the Royal Military College in Canberra. The fixture is of great interest ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 as Argentina and Tonga will meet in Pool C.
Video: ESPN Scrum