Argentina's first international assignment of the year took place earlier today in Salta. Los Pumas defeated the USA Select XV 54-6 in a non-capped match. The fixture was a part of Rugby World Cup 2015 preparation for both teams. Neither participant was at full strength due to the USA touring South America during the European season. The teams are to meet again on Saturday at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena. The stadium played host to Argentina v South Africa in the 2014 Rugby Championship and is a venue worthy of hosting World Cup matches in the event that Argentina hosts the global event in 2023.
Argentina's performance was far from perfect but showcased the development that has been taking place following the advent of PladAR to give the country a new generation of players, many of whom have already signed Super Rugby contracts with the UAR. Crossing for seven of the eight tries were UAR players with the remaining score being a penalty try.
Led by captain Tomás Cubelli the South Americans took just two minutes to open the scoring as the dangerous Santiago Cordero broke clear from fullback before Pumas winger Manuel Montero finished off what was to be his first of two tries in the match. On target with the conversion was Santiago González Iglesias who kicked five conversions in total.
The early 7-0 lead was cut to four in the 6th minute when the highly promising AJ MacGinty landed his first of two penalties of the afternoon. With rain factoring into play both teams made handling errors before back-rower Facundo Isa crossed in the 19th minute for a try converted by González Iglesias. The 14-3 lead was extended five minutes later with Tomás Cubelli scoring from scrumhalf.
The captain's try was again converted by González Iglesias and the fly half completed a memorable first half with the boot as he landed a simple conversion from a Pumas penalty try in the 32nd minute. MacGinty brought the first half scoring to a close when he landed a 36th minute penalty in what was to be the USA Select XV's final points of the afternoon.
Argentina's 28-6 lead at the Jockey Club de Salta was expanded upon eight minutes into the second half when Montero touched down to open the scoring as he had done in the opening half. González Iglesias then landed his final conversion before Bautista Ezcurra took over at fly half. Ezcurra landed conversions from tries scored by Isa and Jerónimo De la Fuente in the 20th and 25th minutes while Matías Orlando scored the final points when he went over for a 79th minute try.
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