Rugby World Cup 2015: Argentina 45-16 Tonga
|Argentina (20) 45|
|Tries: Tuculet, Imhoff, Sanchez, Montoya, Cordero Cons: Sanchez 4 Pens: Sanchez 4|
|Tonga (13) 16|
|Tries: Morath, Tonga'uiha Pens: Morath 2|
Argentina stood firm against a powerful Tonga in Pool C to take a giant stride towards the World Cup quarter-finals.
A ferocious early Tonga onslaught laid the platform for Kurt Morath's try.
But Joaquin Tuculet and Juan Imhoff crossed as Argentina established a 20-13 half-time lead.
Soane Tonga'uiha's try reduced the gap to seven points but Nicolas Sanchez, who also kicked 20 points, darted over and Julian Montoya and Santiago Cordero tries rounded things off.
The Pumas have won two of their three group games and sit in second place behind New Zealand.
A startling opening by Tonga, characterised by brutal tackling and powerful running, looked like it could overpower the Argentines. But there was no sign of Puma panic, even after Morath's fine opening try.
Greater discipline and a refusal to be influenced or affected by the awesome strength, allied to some lenient refereeing, laid the platform for two classy tries in quick succession.
Tuculet went over for the first try after a flowing move. And Santiago Cordero's stunning surge down the right wing set up Imhoff to score on the opposite flank in a devastating three-minute spell in a breathlessly brilliant first half.
Former Northampton loose-head prop Tonga'uiha's try before the interval gave hope but three fine tries in the latter stages ensured Argentina finished in style.
Tongan discipline tightrope
Some over-zealous tacking threatened to leave Tonga playing with a man down early on, lock Tukulua Lokotui lucky to escape further punishment than a penalty for a high tackle on Pumas fly-half Sanchez.
Tonga are the oldest side in World Cup history but too often they charged forward in gung-ho fashion and lost their shape, with Argentina making the most of their opportunities, staying strong and disciplined in defence and repelling countless phases of play.
Ultimately, the spectacular running rugby was not enough and, although Tonga dominated possession in the first half, it was their failure to kick their goals that saw them so far adrift and have to resort to risky second-half tactics.
Morath missed four kicks out of six while the tactical nous, class and reliable boot of Sanchez - who slotted four penalties and four conversions - brought composure and calmness to the Pumas.
His try, after a fine shimmy, settled any Argentine nerves and two clinical two late scores sealed the win.
Maradona inspires Argentina
Argentina captain Agustin Creevy said Diego Maradona's dressing room dance after the victory has inspired his team to push for World Cup glory.
Maradona, who won the football World Cup with Argentina in 1986, said he would watch the team again should they reach the semi-finals.
"He said the whole of Argentina was dreaming with us and everyone was behind us and supporting us. He was here because he wanted to be a part of this. We sung and danced and it was lots of fun," said Creevy.
"It was something different and I could never imagine he would have been there. It was a beautiful surprise for all of us.
"He said if we reach the semi-final he will be there. He has set us a very high goal and we hope he will be there again."
Tonga captain Nili Latu: "We'll regroup and come out twice as hard against the All Blacks. You have to come out fighting - I am really proud of my boys.
"I guess we got off the blocks really slowly against Georgia and we came into this game with the mindset of winning against Argentina.
"We believed we were in the game until the 68th minute but we let ourselves down with poor control and discipline. It's something we have to look at and fix going into the All Blacks game."
- Argentina have won five of their last seven Tests, with both defeats in that run coming against the All Blacks.
- Juan Imhoff scored his fifth Rugby World Cup try. The winger has now scored more in the competition than any other Argentina player.
- Nicolas Sanchez scored 25 points, the second most by an Argentina player at a Rugby World Cup and the outside-half's most in any game.
- Kurt Morath scored 11 points in this game to take him to 64 overall at Rugby World Cups. He has now scored more points in the competition than any other Tonga player.
Argentina: Tuculet; Cordero, Moroni, de la Fuente, Imhoff; Sanchez, Landajo; Ayerza, Creevy, Herrera, Petti Pagadizabal, Lavanini, Matera, Fernandez Lobbe, Senatore.
Replacements: Gonzalez Iglesias for Moroni (67), Agulla for Imhoff (59), Cubelli for Landajo (65), Noguera for Ayerza (65), Montoya for Creevy (65), Orlandi for Herrera (65), Alemanno for Petti Pagadizabal (65), Isa for Senatore (51).
Tonga: Lilo; Veainu, Piutau, Piukala, Vainikolo; Morath, Takulua; Tonga'uiha, Taione, Aulika, Lokotui, Tu'ineau, Kalamafoni, Latu, Ma'afu.
Replacements: Halaifonua for Lilo (70), Fosita for Piukala (50), Fisilau for Takulua (70), Taumalolo for Tonga'uiha (60), Lutui for Taione (60), Puafisi for Aulika (70), Mafi for Tu'ineau (67), Fonua for Ma'afu (60).
Ref: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
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