Pumas claw out bonus point

A SECOND World Cup victory for Argentina was inevitable, and securing a bonus point by scoring four tries was an immensely satisfying return from a most difficult night at the Stade Gerland in Lyon last night.

The final scoreline wouldn’t give any indication of just how difficult it was for the Pumas, but it certainly wasn’t a soft day at the office.

They were provided with an intense examination of their resources; battered by ferocious physical power from the enthusiastic Georgians.

That they emerged with four tries and that bonus point — even if they got it very late — was to their credit.

They’re now most certainly in pole position in this so called Pool of Death, although it’s still to be known how much of a toll it has taken on their squad.

Two matches in four days was a huge demand on any team, and coach Marcello Loffreda must be hoping there are no serious injury concerns.

For now, he will be happy that his side were able to cope with the spirited enthusiasm of Georgia, who won’t, on this display, be any pushover when they take on Ireland in their next game.

Felipe Contepomi admitted that there was relief all around in the Argentinean camp. “I suppose we were fortunate to get the bonus point; on the other hand, we worked hard for it. We had to be patient because they played the game in our faces all evening. They were very enthusiastic, very good in many ways, especially in the way they committed themselves to the rucks and mauls and for the manner in which they fought for every scrap of possession.

“It was good to be pushed in that way — to see whether we were capable of responding. It was hard, but we made it in the end,” he said.

There was an explosive start, with the French crowd getting straight behind the Georgians who took the lead with a penalty from out-half Merab Kvirikashvili.

Argentina lost the services of the captain Agustin Pichot before the game (groin strain) and Contepomi took over despite looking ill at ease and carrying a thigh strain.

However he did manage to kick the equalising penalty after 12 minutes but Argentina looked unhappy in the face of the Georgian assault.

In that early portion of the game, Georgia had to defend for their lives in one six-minute spell, but they defended with aggression and passion, pushing Argentina back through sheer physical power. Argentina were relieved to hit the front after a second Contepomi penalty after 34 minutes.

There was more relief eight minutes into the second half when they finally got the break they needed, with winger Lucas Borges steaming in for a try that Contepomi converted.

That gave Argentina a rather flattering lead at the end of a worrying spell, but it helped open the necessary gap, and Contepomi struck with a subsequent penalty to make it 16-3 before Borges sliced through for his second try.

Argentina continued to be frustrated in the face of continued determination from the opposition; that’s until Patricio Albacete stormed through for a try in the 73rd minute, a try that left the Pumas creeping ever closer to the all important bonus point.

It came in the most frustrating of circumstances from Georgia’s point of view, after they had defended resolutely in the closing five minutes.

An Argentinean pass went astray but was picked up by left winger Federico Martin Aramburu and he scored in the right hand corner. With the last kick of the game, Juan Martin Hernandez converted to make the score 33-3.

ARGENTINA: I. Corleto, L. Borges, G. Tiesi, F. Contepomi (captain), f. Martin Aramburu, J. Martin Hernandez, N. Fernandez Miranda, M. Ayerza, M. Ledesma Arocena, S. Gonzalex Bonorinio, R. Alvarez Kairelis, P. Albacete, M. Durand, J. M. Leguizamon, J. Fernandez Lobbe.

Replacements: O. Hasan Jalil for Bonorino (46), M. Schusterman for Leguizamon (63), A Basualdo for Arocena, E. Lozada for Kairelis F. Todeschini for Contepomi (75). Temporary, H. Denillosa for Tiesi, E. Lozada for Kairelis (both 45-47).

GEORGIA: P. Jumsheladze, I. Machkhaneli, M. Urjukashvili, I. Giorgadze, B. Khamashuridze, M. Kvirikashvili, I. Abuseridze, D. Khinchagashvili, a. Giorgadze, D. Zirakashvili, I. Zedginidze, M. Gorgodze, g. Chkhaidze, B. Udesiani, G. Labadze.

Replacements: A Kopaliani for Zirakashvili (40). Z Maisuradze for Chkhaidze (48), G. Shkinin for Jimsheladze (60), B Samkharadze for Abuseidze (63).

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