Argentina 54 Georgia 9
Argentina took a huge step towards reaching the World Cup quarter-finals by crushing Georgia 54-9 in Gloucester.
Georgia were on a high after beating Tonga in their opening Pool C game, and only five places separated themselves and Argentina on the International Rugby Board’s world rankings.
The Lelos were right in the game at half-time when trailing 14-9, but the turning point arrived within five minutes of the re-start when Georgia’s best player, their number eight and skipper Mamuka Gorgodze, was yellow-carded for slowing down ruck ball.
Argentina made their extra man count in ruthless fashion with three tries in six minutes, and finally the gap between eighth and 13th on the IRB rankings appeared an accurate reflection of the two teams’ standing in the world game.
Until then the result appeared in the balance; the Pumas’ backs carrying a greater edge but Georgia allowed to stay in touch by Argentinian indiscipline and their prowess in the scrums and in an unrelenting arm wrestle on the ground.
Argentina had pushed world champions New Zealand all the way before losing their Wembley opener 26-16 and the Pumas took the confidence from that performance into the opening stages at Kingsholm.
They charged into an 8-0 lead after 10 minutes with Nicolas Sanchez dropping a goal from almost under the Georgia crossbar and then profiting from an attack which moved from right to left and then back again
Sanchez floated a pass to flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and the Pumas were almost queuing up as second-row forward Tomas Lavanini crashed over.
Georgia were seeking a way back into proceedings and they were handed an opportunity when Merab Kvirikashvili was obstructed under his own high kick and the full-back supplied the penalty points from 30 metres.
Kvirikashvili reduced the deficit even further with a monster penalty from just inside the Argentina half but Georgia were immediately guilty of indiscipline at the other end and Sanchez restored the five-point gap.
Georgia had often struggled to break the gain line in possession but back-row pair Giorgi Tkhilaishvili and Viktor Kolelishvili made hard yards out wide and Kvirikashvili landed his third penalty.
But the outstanding Sanchez soon stroked over another penalty after the Georgia defence had been cut open by the outside-half’s scything break and defensive desperation led to a careless tackle off the ball.
And Georgia were punished in spectacular style when Gorgodze was sent to the sin bin, Tomas Cubelli accepting Facundo Isa’s pass off the back of a scrum to score within seconds of having a one-man advantage.
Worse was to come for Georgia when Juan Imhoff scorched into the corner following a delightful Pumas passing move, and fellow wing Santiago Cordero soon stepped in from the other side for another converted try.
Georgia became ever more bedraggled and replacement Martin Landajo, Cordero and Imhoff added further tries, and Argentina will head into games with Tonga and Namibia confident of claiming the second qualifying spot in the pool behind the All Blacks.