The Pampas XV have made it back-to-back champions in Oceania. The future Argentine Super Rugby side won the Pacific Challenge this morning by defeating the Fiji 'A' side the Fiji Warriors by a scoreline of 17-9 in Suva. With tries to Pumas Santiago Cordero and Jerónimo De la Fuente the Argentine team won while holding firm in defence. The Fijians played well, holding a half time lead before the visitros seized control in the second half to win the title. The Martín Gaitán and Raúl Pérez coached side now returns home to South America undefeated.
A hard-fought 17-9 victory by the Pampas XV sees the Argentine side now having won competitions in South Africa, Australia and Fiji. With the ongoing transformation of rugby in Argentina the success enables the continued push towards having a team debut in Super Rugby in 2016 and attracting the return of foreign based players from abroad.
The win against thre Fiji Warriors continues with the altered approach that has seen the Pampas XV, like Los Pumas, moving away from the traditional tight game plan in favor of playing more expansive and looking to win by scoring points rather than focusing heavily on kicking for field position and perfecting defensive patterns.
The Pampas XV's two tries were scored by players to have emerged from the PladAR system in recent years. Santiago Cordero and Jerónimo De la Fuente scored a try a piece and both are expected to be involved with Argentina's upcoming internationals ahead of the June training and subsequent Rugby Championship campaign.
The two tries were converted by Santiago González Iglesias, a player long overlooked by previous Pumas coach Santiago Phelan but one now among the favorites of Daniel Hourcade to provide cover for the fly half and centres positions. González Iglesias partnered Felipe Ezcurra rather than Martín Landajo or Tomás Cubelli in the halves. The move was an indication of the confidence in the young scrumhalf.
Like Ezcurra Cordero is a player pushing more established stars for a place in the World Cup. His finishing abilities place him among the leading attacking Argentine players and he arguably has the potential to explode on the global stage come September. His try came from a scrum and saw the Pampas XV take the lead after 30 minutes following two early penalties from Fijian Serupepeli Vularika.
After Cordero's try Vularika kicked a third penalty which saw the Fiji Warriors leading 9-7 at half time. Despite intent the opening twenty minutes of the second half was pointless. A try from De la Funete on the 60th minute ended the drought and with the conversion the South Americans were five points ahead. A penalty from González Iglesias sealed the result four minutes from full time.
Many of the Pampas XV players are in consideration for Argentina's Rugby World Cup squad. They are to form the basis of the Argentine test side set to play against the USA, Chile and Uruguay in April and May.