|Créditos: Juan Gasparini - UAR|
Earlier today Ireland completed a test series win over Los Pumas in Argentina by winning the second test in Tucumán 23-17. Ireland was pushed hard by Argentina whom held a 10-9 half time lead in a match in which both teams crossed for two tries. Ultimately the difference between the teams was that Ireland landed two more penalty goals than Argentina. The South Americans were without all but one player contracted to European clubs next season while Ireland, in comparison, was close to being at full strength. The two-nil series result may well see Argentina again failing to win test matches but the manner in which the South Americans performed was significantly better to that of the home series in 2013 against England.
Argentina's two tries today were scored by outside backs - the same positions which Santiago Phelan failed to get results from. The players fielded by Daniel Hourcade in the back-three in both tests were players that Phelan was not in favor of in his selections. Both Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino scored impressive tries and offered options on attack. Last weekends try scorer, Manuel Montero, was well marked but nonetheless again looked like a winger of international standard.
Elsewhere Argentina was close to Ireland overall with Martín Landajo possibly having his best ever performance in a Pumas shirt. Centre Gabriel Ascárate was forced from the field with a neck injury and is in doubt for next Friday's test against Scotland in Córdoba. The fitness of both Matías Cortese and Lucas Noguera Paz will also need to be assessed. The selection policy of Hourcade, nonetheless, suggest that there are going to be a lot of changes for Córdoba.
Unlike the 2013 home series in which Argentina was badly defeated in Salta and Buenos Aires by England the 2014 tests v Ireland exclusively featured players in contention for places in Argentina's squad for the Rugby Championship. While Phelan had selected a large quantity of European based players in June Hourcade decided to restrict selection to players he would be also be considering to face the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies.
Such an altered policy had Argentina fielding teams against Ireland that were dominated by Pampas XV players. Of the players based abroad this last season only Ramiro Herrera is to remain in Europe next season and Tomás Lavanini will be linking up with Racing Métro. The manner in which Hourcadism provided Argentina with a more effective game plan and competitive unit than twelve months earlier implies that with reinforcements from abroad the team should be more competitive in the Rugby Championship than in the previous two years.
Lucas Noguera Paz
Tomás De la Vega
Antonio Ahualli de Chazal
Jerónimo De la Fuente
Lucas González Amorosino
Santiago Iglesias Valdez
Javier Ortega Desio
Santiago González Iglesias