Rugby World Cup 2019
Argentina 28-12 Tonga
Argentina finally ended the worst run in their history on Saturday, reviving their Rugby World Cup 2019 hopes with a 28-12 victory over Tonga in Hanazono.
After 10 defeats in a row going back more than a year the 2015 semi-finalists, having lost 23-21 against France in their opening Pool C match, had too much firepower for the Pacific Islanders in the early stages. The bonus point for four tries was achieved by the 26th minute.
Los Pumas will probably have to overcome unbeaten England in Tokyo on Saturday, 5 October to progress to the knockout stages and despite going 50 minutes without scoring after their initial burst they will still believe they can do it.
Meanwhile, Tonga, beaten 35-3 by England at the start of the tournament and 92-7 by New Zealand before that, must now dig deep to turn things round against France and the United States.
The three-try hooker Julian Montoya was Player of the Match. He had scored only two in his first 43 internationals.
Argentina, down 20-3 at half-time a week ago, needed only seven minutes to take the lead this time. Ignoring the easy three points on offer after being awarded a penalty when Telusa Veainu tried and failed to run out of his own 22, the ensuing line-out was won and Montoya, pictured scoring, had the simplest of tasks down the blindside.
Benjamin Urdapilleta added the conversion and soon Montoya was driven over for his second try. Three minutes later an unwise reverse pass to no-one from Tongan fly-half James Faiva was gratefully picked up by wing Santiago Carreras, who was clean through.
Urdapilleta added both conversions and thought he had scored the bonus-point try himself soon afterwards. No clear grounding could be found on TMO review, but two minutes later Montoya was over for his hat-trick. His five in all RWC games also equalled the record for a hooker set by Ireland’s Keith Wood.
Tonga’s first concerted attack of the contest after 29 minutes came as a result as a ferocious tackle by birthday boy Zane Kapeli – much like his one on Billy Vunipola last week – and Veainu’s try was converted by Sonatane Takalua to make it 28-7
The Ikale Tahi – Sea Eagles – might easily have been awarded a second after the deafening gong for half-time sounded, but it was decided after another TMO review that Tomas Lavanini’s bundling of David Halaifonua into touch by the corner flag was legal. Not everyone seemed to agree.
After the break Pumas scrum-half Tomas Cubelli lost control of the ball as he went to touch down, and referee Jaco Peyper ruled out another potential try because he got in the way of a defender.
The half had nothing like the fireworks of the first, but a hack downfield by giant prop Siegfriend Fisiihoi brought the crowd back to life and Veainu scored his second try after 65 minutes after a superb flick to him by Cooper Vuna.
It was a brave fightback, but it came too late.