Saturday, May 2, 2015

International Rugby: Argentina pushed hard by impressive USA

Créditos: Rodrigo Vergara
Argentina completed a hard-fought 28-23 victory over the USA Select XV in the second of two non-capped friendly matches between the teams. With it the North Americans return home with one win and two losses from the three match South American tour. More importantly, however, head coach Mike Tolkin has a vastly enhanced understanding of where his players standing in terms of Rugby World Cup selection. A number of players enhanced their prospects with the newcomer AJ MacGinty at fly half putting in a stand-out performance in today's match in Salta.   

Similar to the first match between the teams scoring got underway shortly after kick-off and in identical fashion with Argentine winger Manuel Montero scoring a first minute try. The left winger went over for a try converted by fly half Santiago González Iglesias but, unlike, in Tuesday's match the USA Select XV were stern opposition throughout. 

The North Americans got on the board in the 16th minute when back-rower John Quill touched down for a try converted by fly half AJ MacGinty. The two North Americans did their World Cup chances a tremendous favor on this tour. Prior to arriving in South America both were possible selections but they now return home listed as probables.

McGinty gave the USA Select XV a 10-7 lead in the 34th minute when he slotted a penalty. Argentina, though, went into half time ahead following a try by hooker Santiago Iglesias Valdez. With the conversion the South Americans went into the interval with a 14-10 lead but knew that a better second half performance was required to win the contest. 

Any suggestion that the Argentine side would walk away with it in the second half was proven inaccurate as MacGinty put the USA Select XV ahead with penalties in the 47th and 51st minutes. Daniel Hourcade responded by turning to his bench and it was replacement Pablo Matera (pictured above) that put the home side back in the lead. The back-rower's 57th minute try was followed by another as Tomás Cubelli continued to underline himself as Argentina's leading scrumhalf. Having come on from the bench Cubelli went over in the 64th minute.

González Iglesias was on target with both conversions to give Argentina a comfortable advantage. The USA Select XV, however, would be the only team to score during the remainder of the match. Crossing for a 71st minute try was MacGinty. In converting his own try the scores were 28-23 to Argentina and with it a nervous ending to the match eventuated. Cubelli ended the game by kicking the ball out on fulltime.

The USA now return home with one eye on the World Cup and another on the Pacific Nations Cup. With there still being a lot of time and games to be played a number of possibilities exist for more players to shine. Argentina will face South American opposition in test rugby before hosting the French Barbarians in June ahead of the Rugby Championship. 

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