5 Oct 2015

Argentina all but book place in RWC quarters

6:30 am on 5 October 2015

Argentina all but secured their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals as they subdued Tonga's physicality and flair to claim a 45-16 bonus-point victory in Leicester.

Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina kicks a penalty.

Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina kicks a penalty. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The win lifts the Pumas above Tonga to second place in Pool C, with the Pacific Islanders yet to play group leaders and defending champions New Zealand while Argentina need only beat Namibia to seal their passage to the last eight.

Tongan centre Siale Piutau had said that Tonga's "wolf pack mentality" would hound the Pumas into submission and they certainly gave as good as they got in a free-flowing first half to trail 20-13 at the break, with two tries apiece.

Ultimately, however, Argentina first-five Nicolas Sanchez proved the difference, tormenting Tonga with the boot and ball in hand, weighing in with 25 points from four penalties, four conversions and one of the Pumas' five tries.

Tonga contributed to an exciting first test meeting between the two teams and drew first blood with a try from first-five Kurt Morath, but Argentina hit back with a pair of tries to take a lead they would never relinquish.

The first arrived when prop Ramiro Herrera broke free to feed fullback Joaquin Tuculet for a try under the posts. Nippy Santiago Cordero then fielded the deep restart to launch a sidestepping counter-attack to set up a try for wing Juan Imhoff.

Tongan tenacity was rewarded with a stunning try on the stroke of halftime; a fine attacking move across the pitch ending with wing Telusa Veainu offloading for marauding prop Soane Tonga'uiha to dive over.

Their challenge faded in the second period and Morath's two successful penalties were a poor return from his six shots at goal.

Sanchez continued to nail his kicks and added his try before replacement forward Julian Montoya went over in the corner to secure the bonus point and right wing Cordero closed out the match with the fifth try.

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