Argentina labor to bonus-point win

BUSY, BUSY::The Pumas secured the bonus point with a try in the last minute, but their coach bemoaned his team's hectic match schedule


Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 20

Frustrated Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda believes having to play two, tough physical battles inside four days almost derailed the Pumas' World Cup dream.

The South Americans labored to a 33-3 win over Georgia in Lyon on Tuesday having beaten hosts France in the tournament-opener in Paris on Friday.

By contrast to their quick return to action, Pool D rivals France have a nine-day gap before they play their second group game against Namibia.

"It was very difficult after just four days rest and then having to travel," Loffreda said. "We had no time to recover and lost a little concentration as a result. We have two wins and a bonus point but some of our players suffered in this match because of the little time to recover."

Argentina closed in on the quarter-finals with the win which was topped-off by a last minute try which guaranteed a crucial bonus point.

However, Georgia won plenty of new fans when they held the Pumas, who shocked France in the opening game, to just 6-3 at the interval before the South Americans' greater composure told in the second half.

The Pumas left it late to secure the bonus point with winger Federico Martin Aramburu touching down in the last minute.

"It was very tough," said Pumas center Felipe Contepomi, who was skipper for the night in the absence of the rested Agustin Pichot.

Georgia skipper Ilia Zedginidze said it had been a physically tough encounter.

This was the first international between the two nations and Georgia fought fire with fire with their forwards matching the mighty Pumas in the first-half exchanges.

Georgia even opened the scoring in the second minute when flyhalf Merab Kvirikashvili kicked a penalty, before Argentina leveled with a 12th minute penalty from Felipe Contepomi.

But Argentina, aware that four tries would give them the crucial extra point in a tight Pool D which also includes Ireland, failed to break through the Georgia line and only edged ahead through another Contepomi penalty.

Georgia, with the French crowd behind them, tired after the interval and Argentina scored their first try seven minutes into the second half, when winger Lucas Borges crossed in the corner after good link-up work between Felipe Contepomi and flanker Juan Fernandez Lobbe.

Contepomi added the conversion and then another penalty before Borges grabbed his second try in the 56th minute, which his skipper again converted.

It was 26-3 with nine minutes left when lock Patricio Albacete went over.

This time Contepomi missed the conversion before winger Aramburu allowed his team to breathe a huge sigh of relief with his bonus-point clinching last-minute try.

Juan Martin Hernandez kicked the conversion.