Argentina 54 Georgia 9: Argentina are at that stage of development where they are potentially both giants and giant-killers at this World Cup, and, having come up short in their attempts to stun the All Blacks last Sunday, the key objective for them in Gloucester yesterday was not to become the victims of shock.
It was always going to be an old-fashioned bruiser between two countries who place so much stock on their pack, and the crowd of 14,256 in Kingsholm was not disappointed.
Aside from the place-kicks, both sides pounded into each other in a game which only really turned in favour of the Pumas after the restart.
Argentina, if they are to be Ireland’s quarter-final opponents, will be none the worse for this outing when they had to dig deep before seeing off the brave Lelos in a seven-try rout, six of which came after the restart and three when they briefly had an extra man.
Georgia, with Mamuka Gorgodze leading the fight and 18-year-old scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze, the youngest to ever play in the World Cup, whipping his backs into a frenzy, were still in the contest at the break, trailing 14-9.
Any hopes of a shock disappeared after the restart when Gorgodze, already on thin ice after a high tackle before the break, was binned for killing the ball. The Pumas went for the jugular and they cracked the Georgians and ran in 21 points in eight minutes with the Toulon No 8 in the bin.
They managed just one try in the opening half, getting off the mark with the tournament’s first drop goal when Nicolas Sanchez scored after six minutes.
The former Racing Metro lock Tomas Lavanina used all of his 20-stone frame to get over for the opening try after 11 minutes when, as usual, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was instrumental in carving the initial cracks.
Neville O’Donoghue and Steve Neville discuss the minnows of the Rugby World Cup.
But Georgia. Twenty five minutes behind schedule arriving at the ground after getting caught in heavy traffic on the way from their hotel, gave as good as they got and they clawed their way back into the game. They got an edge in the scrum and used it well, getting back in contention with a couple of penalties from the left boot of full-back Merab Kvirikashvili.
Sanchez and Kvirikashvili exchanged penalties before the Puma out-half extended their lead but they had to produce 17 tackles in a cameo deep inside their own half just before the break to hold their lead to the interval.
The binning of Gorgodze opened the opportunity for the Pumas, and Argentina were razor sharp in the way they wrapped up the issue.
Scrum-half Tomas Cubelli started the rout with a snipe, Racing Metro’s Juan Imhoff struck three minutes later and the bonus point came shortly after restart when the impressive Santiago Cordero got the first of two tries.
Tries: S Cordero (2), J Imhoff (2), T Lavanini, T Cubelli, M Landajo Cons: N Sanchez (3), M Bosch (2) Pens: Sanchez (2) Drop goal: Sanchez Georgia:
M Kvirikashvili (3) Argentina: J Tuculet; S Cordero, M Bosch, JM Hernandez, J Imhoff; N Sanchez, T Cubelli; M Ayerza, A Creevy, N Tetaz Chaparro; M Alemanno, T Lavanini; JM Leguizamon, JM Fernandez Lobbe, F Isa.
J De La Fuente for Hernandez, 37; M Landajo for Cubelli, 58, R Herrera for Tetaz Chaparro, 58, P Matera for Leguizamon, 63, J Montoya for Creevy, 63, L Amorosino for Sanchez, 64, J Ortega Desio for Fernandez Lobbe, 64, L Noguera for Ayerza, 69.
M Kvirikashvili; T Mchedidze, D Kacharava, M Sharikadze, G Aptsiuri; L Malaguradze, V Lobzhanidze; M Nariashvili, J Bregvadze, D Zirakashvili; G Nemsadze, K Mikautadze; G Tkhilaishvili, V Kolelishvili, M Gorgodze.
S Mamukashvili for Bregvadze, 48, L Datunashvili for Mikautadze, 48, K Asieshvili for Nariashvili, 50, L Chilachava for Zirakashvili, 50, M Giorgadze for Kvirikashvili, 54, G Begadze for Lobzhanidze, 58, S Sutiashvili for Kolelishvili, 58, G Pruidze for Malaguradze, 59.
JP Doyle (England).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved