RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015

Rampaging Pumas have q-finals in sight

Tomas Cubelli goes past Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze before scoring the second try for Argentina.
Tomas Cubelli goes past Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze before scoring the second try for Argentina.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

LONDON • Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade insisted his side would keep their feet on the ground after hammering Georgia 54-9 on Friday to put them on course to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Argentina went down 16-26 to champions New Zealand in their opening game, but are now favourites to qualify in second place in Pool C with two games left against Tonga and minnows Namibia.

A tight first-half at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium gave way to a seven-try mauling.

Tomas Lavanini, Tomas Cubelli, Juan Imhoff (two), Martin Landajo and Santiago Cordero (two) all crossed for tries as Argentina notched up 40 unanswered second-half points.

Nicolas Sanchez adeptly pulled the strings at fly-half, opening the scoring with a drop-goal.

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He went on to bag two penalties and three conversions for a personal tally of 15 points.

Marcelo Bosch also kicked two conversions.

The turning point of the game, played before a sell-out 16,500 crowd dominated by Argentinians, came when Georgian skipper Mamuka Gorgodze was sin-binned in the 45th minute.

In his absence, Argentina scored three converted tries to pull clear and post a bonus-point win.

"I'm sure there was no infringement, there was no penalty there," Gorgodze insisted of his yellow card for preventing the Pumas quick ball at a ruck on their line.

"I would like to see it again but the referee is always right. We're not at a high enough level to play two tough games."

Georgia beat Tonga 17-10 in their first match.

Pumas coach Hourcade was left basking in his side's performance.

"We gave away many penalties in the first half but managed to show in the second half how we wanted to play," he said.

"It's nice when you train for something and get there. We've been improving some aspects of our game: Points of contact and quick balls to give ourselves chances, and they are now bearing fruit.

"We've our feet on the ground because we've experiences when we do good things and relax too much," he added.

Argentina play Tonga next Sunday and Namibia on Oct 11 with both games in Leicester.

Georgia coach Milton Haig now faces the tough task of rallying his troops to face the All Blacks in Cardiff on Friday.

"Next week, we play the best team in the world and that's something we've never done," said Haig, himself a New Zealander.

"It won't take much to motivate the boys for that because it's the pinnacle of every player's career to play them at the World Cup so we have plenty to look forward to.

"I just want my team to do well and to perform to their potential.

"If they do that, regardless of the result, I will be happy."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Rampaging Pumas have q-finals in sight'. Print Edition | Subscribe