Friday, July 25, 2014

Rugby Championship: Los Pumas win warm-up fixture at CASI

Créditos: Rodrigo Vergara – UAR
Los Pumas headcoach Daniel Hourcade gave Argentine rugby supporters a reason to feel optimistic earlier this evening as Argentina completed a 44-21 victory over French Top 14 club side Grenoble. In what was a first opportunity of the year for Hourcade the home side produced some impressive rugby and did so by playing a style of rugby which suggests the team could have a realistic chance of completing a first ever victory in the Rugby Championship. At CASI this evening the evidence on display suggests a team that knows what it is doing is preparing for a third Rugby Championship campaign.  

Played at one of Argentina's most traditional clubs, CASI, Los Pumas produced an impressive display. The six tries to two victory featured a patient team looking to control the ball and put it to good use as the backs received plenty of ball as Argentina went in search of scoring opportunities. 

In what was a continuation of the approach adopted against Ireland and Scotland last month an Argentine side re-enforced by its leading players based in Europe performed well as a unit and had the required rhythm and understanding to creating opportunities and seize them. 

Hourcade was placed in the unfavorable position of fielding depleted lineups against visiting Six Nations sides in June but rather than call upon available players based in Europe who are outside of the frame for the Rugby Championship he utilized the best home based players. 

The result was a Pumas side lacking experience and quality but one that had the framework to succeed when strengthened by Rugby Championship squad members based in Europe. In some instances the players impressed so much in June that they are on track to start ahead of professional players in the opening round of the Rugby Championship against South Africa. 

Both Manuel Montero and Joaquúin Tuculet are cases in point. The pair continued on from their fine form in June by starting against Grenoble and they left CASI with their reputations in tact. Juan Imhoff joined them in the starting back-three which saw Horacio Agulla on the bench. In taking such an approach Hourcade was selecting and backing his leading attackers in an effort to give Argentina an edge that was lacking under Santiago Phelan.

Imhoff scored the opening try of the match after linking with Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe. Scored in the 21st minute it gave Argentina a 10-0 lead after Nicolás Sánchez's conversion followed an earlier penalty. Three minutes latter a rolling maul saw Juan Manuel Leguizamón score but just as Argentina appeared to be in control Grenoble hit back with a converted try and a penalty.

Argentina secured a 20-13 half time lead as Montero crossed but Grenoble cut the gap to just four with a penalty to Jonathan Wisniewski to open the second half. Sánchez kicked a 51st minute penalty before after crossed for the tries in the final corner with Matías Moroni and Lucas González Amorosino both crossing after the forwards had earlier created a penalty try.

The teams are to meet again next weekend, this time in Northern Argentina. The city of Catarmaca will play host to the match at the Estadio Bicentenario Ciudad de Catamarca on August 2. The choice of the venue underlines Argentina's vast options for hosting international rugby and further enforces the country as the leading option to host Rugby World Cup 2023.

Video Credit ESPN Scrum

1 comment:

  1. Good win from the Pumas. A nice surprise after witnessing so many painful losses from them in recent years, with no victories to ease the pain in between! But this was GRENOBLE, a club team who finished 11th in the Top 14. And sadly it was NOT a test match victory against a team of note, something that must seem such a distant memory for Pumas fans. In fact, I think they last beat one of the founding unions in November 2012--Wales in Cardiff if I'm not mistaken.

    I'm still not convinced they're gonna trouble the SANZAR teams. Last month at Nelspruit, Wales showed how the Springboks can be pushed, but the Springboks still won in the last minute after playing badly for most of the game. Wales had had 19 games before that against the Southern Hemisphere, and had come close to winning them, but ultimately feel short in all of them. Ireland are also a team who are regularly capable of beating the big three, but constantly fall short (The NZ-Ireland game in November is perhaps the most disturbing example of this)... Argentina are, with all due respect, nowhere near Wales or Ireland at the moment. The Pumas lost to Scotland in Cordoba for crying out loud! Yes, they didn't have their best players for that game, but Scotland were under strength too. I was very disappointed at that result, and frankly expected better of a team who had many players from Pampas XV, who had won the Pacific Rugby Cup earlier on...

    I'd love to see Argentina win and puncture the boring monopoly the SANZAR teams have on the world game. Even as a Kiwi, the inability of anyone else to ever beat the SANZAR teams except once in a blue moon bores me to tears. But, if Wales and Ireland can't do it, why would Argentina? The team have lost something like 21 from their last 27 games, and have developed a frustrating choking habit, throwing games they should win (look no further than June this year for examples of this)... In my opinion, to date they should NOT be 0 from 12 games played in the Rugby Championship... But reality and fairy tales don't mix much at all in rugby... Hasten the day where they do, because my word how the sport needs it!