Rugby World Cup Match Reports

Argentina 47-17 USA Rugby World Cup Match Report

Argentina booked their place for France 2023 with an entertaining 47-17 bonus point win over the USA.

After stuttering into action in the first half, following the break the Pumas showed why they belong at the elite level, conjuring up some beautiful back play which the USA never came close to withstanding.

Talented centre Juan Cruz Mallia and wing Joaquin Tuculet grabbed two tries apiece, as the Argentines racked up seven touchdowns in total.

Argentina tested the American defence early by spreading the ball wide at pace, and the Eagles demonstrated both patience and resolve. USA fly-half AJ MacGinty had spoken before the game about his team’s big motivation to grab the third spot in Pool C and seal their qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, and North Americans certainly looked like a team playing for more than simply pride.

Lively wing Bautista Delguy missed an early opportunity to put the Pumas ahead in Kumagaya, stumbling just when it looked like he was set to accelerate past the last man. The breakthrough nearly came through a TMO try just after ten minutes, when scrum-half Felipe Ezcurra chose to go it alone from a ruck ten metres out. He collided with the padding around the posts and appeared to touch down, but Argentina were penalised for obstruction in the melee behind him.

Argentina Draw First Blood

The USA almost scored on their first foray into Argentine territory. Lock Greg Peterson was felled just short of the try online, but then Sale Sharks fly half AJ MacGinty was guilty of a wayward pass with a 2 vs 2 beckoning on the flank.

Nicolas Sanchez broke the deadlock just after 20 minutes after great work from Mallia, a man who would make a habit of breaking the Argentine line in this game. On 25 minutes it was try time again. A pinpoint kick from MacGinty’s opposite number Sanchez allowed full back Joaquin Tuculet to pounce. Tucelet nearly saw the ball knocked out of his hands by lone defender Mike Te'o.

There were two more five pointers to come before the break, as it became clear that although neither of the two sides’ offence was flawless, the USA had far more errors in them than the Pumas. From the line out, a move exhibiting power and speed and involving Sanchez and flanker Pablo Matera resulted in Tucelet going over for his second. But it was the USA who had the final say in the first half, finally putting the remaining pieces of their offensive jigsaw together. After a clever MacGinty kick in behind, captain Blaine Scully went over in the corner.

Show Time in Kumagaya

At 19-5 down going into the second half, the game was not yet out of the USA’s reach, but with only four minutes gone following the restart, the South Americans executed a move which made the gulf in class between the two sides clear. Delguy made a break from beneath his own posts all the way into American territory, setting up a play which saw Mallia dart through a generous gap in the USA defence. It was ‘Magic Mallia’ again just over three minutes later, as he capitalised on a jinking run across the line from a quick line out, to seal his brace. It was an eye-catching World Cup debut from the 23 year-old Jaguares prospect.

Apparently not wanting to be overshadowed by his fellow centre, Jeronimo De La Fuente capped another beautiful example of running rugby with purpose and pace, as Argentina snaffled a poor USA line out before throwing the ball about with ease. It was now 40-5, but the USA were not ready to lie down. Centre Paul Lasike drove through to the line like a wrecking ball after a superb Ben Pinkleman take from a high kick had begun the move.

Replacement fly-half Gonzalo Bertranou made it seven after a sucker punch dummy from Mallia created the opening. Mallia displayed fantastic peripheral vision on the move to find his teammate, who wrong footed the last defender. The brave Eagles grabbed a consolation try just after the gong. It was captain Scully who found the corner to make it 14-17.

The Americans did have their moments, but it was the Argentina attack’s vast superiority at penetrating the line - inviting contact and offloading easily – which was one of several discrepancies between the two teams. It will be a long wait until France 2023 for the Pumas, but several of the youngsters who they blooded today gave what could be a sneak preview of their potential in that tournament.

Tonga will be the USA’s final opponents of the tournament on Sunday (13th October). After being plunged into the ‘Pool of Death’, they will hope to leave Japan with a win under their belts.

USA To Beat Tonga @ 8/5

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