Argentina 33 Georgia 3
Argentina scored four second-half tries to secure a hard-fought bonus-point victory over determined Georgia and make it two wins out of two in Ireland's World Cup Pool D.
The Pumas were on the front foot throughout but, owing to some tremendous defending by Georgia, were only 6-3 up at half-time courtesy of two Felipe Contepomi penalties.
The second half was a different story however, and as the grizzled Georgians tired, Lucas Borges (two), Patricio Albacete and Federico Martin Aramburu – with the game’s last act – went over for tries.
Contepomi, with three penalties and two conversions, grabbed a 13-point haul with Merab Kvirikashvili scoring Georgia’s only points.
A sensational rearguard action had helped Argentina defeat hosts France 17-12 in the tournament’s opening game on Friday, but the boot was on the other foot tonight.
The first half was spent almost entirely in the Georgian half, yet the Pumas harvested just two penalties for their efforts.
That was down in part to some sloppy mistakes from Marcelo Loffreda’s men, but praise should go to the mighty Georgian defence, who showed an unyielding appetite throughout for head-on confrontation.
It was the eastern Europeans who took the lead, Kvirikashvili taking advantage of Contepomi’s spill from the kick-off, then Argentinian indiscipline to boot a simple penalty.
They then defended for their lives, some bruising tackling helping them keep the lead for 10 minutes.
Argentina restored parity with a 12th-minute Contepomi penalty and they were glad to see Kvirikashvili miss his second attempt at a three-pointer a minute later.
The Argentinians held the whip hand but they just could not break down their opponents’ stubborn defence.
Albacete was held up just before the line while repeated bludgeoning assaults five metres out were repelled on the half-hour mark.
Georgia eventually succumbed to indiscipline in the 35th minute, an offside call allowing Contepomi to boot his second penalty from under the posts.
There were just three points in it at the interval but an 11-minute spell at the start of the second half decided the game.
In the 47th minute, Sale flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe’s show-and-go 20 metres out fooled the Georgia outside defence and he was able to set Borges free down the right flank for a score Contepomi converted.
The Leinster fly-half – playing at centre here – kicked his third successful penalty to stretch the lead to 16-3 before Borges notched his second try.
Juan Martin Hernandez capitalised on a handling error in the Georgia back-line and sent in the winger, who outmanoeuvred covering defender Mamuka Gorgodze to ground. The try needed confirmation from upstairs.
Albacete handed off Avtandil Kopaliani to barge over for the third try, but Aramburu grabbed the bonus point by scorching over for the fourth with seconds remaining.