Argentina warm-up for last eight with Namibia romp
Pumas run in nine tries in Leicester ahead of quarter-final date with Ireland or France
Argentina’s Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe celebrates after his side’s nine try rout of Namibia in Leicester. Photograph: Reuters
It was not the farewell Namibia wanted or deserved but they are not the only ones to have fallen prey to the Pumas and on current evidence may not be the last. Juan Martín Hernández, on a rare outing at fly-half, orchestrated a nine-try romp to ensure Argentina approach their quarter-final with either France or Ireland on Sunday confident they can emulate the class of 2007.
They are the third highest try-scorers, have a formidable scrum and a vast array of talented backs – against Namibia it was the right wing Matias Moroni who shone brightest but he is unlikely to keep his place for the quarter-final. They arrived as dark horses but Ireland or France will have only themselves to blame if they do not see Argentina coming up on the rails.
For Namibia, who like Argentina made 11 changes, it was a difficult afternoon and their heaviest defeat of the tournament, not helped by the absence of Jacques Burger or an early yellow card to JC Greyling. They can at least take solace that they lasted a day longer than England.
Moroni was in the mood from the off, darting down the right wing inside the first minute and it was his popped pass from which the blindside flanker Pablo Matera thought he had scored soon after, only to find he had put a foot in touch.
Argentina had the advantage only for Santiago González Iglesias to miss a sitter in front of the posts, but it mattered little. On seven minutes another break from Moroni allowed Hernández, running a perfect inside line, in for the first try, Iglesias adding the extras.
Iglesias had found his range and Argentina were 10-0 to the good and a man up when the Greyling was shown a yellow card, but Namibia were soon back to within three, Hernández guilty of showboating and duly punished when his flicked pass went to no one in particular, Tromp gathering the loose ball and coasting under the posts – even the Pumas fans seemed to be cheering.
It did not take long for Argentina to make their numerical advantage count, however. First Moroni wriggled through the heart of the Namibia defence to touch down under the posts before Horacio Agulla, fondly remembered in these parts after a spell at Leicester Tigers, went over down the left despite Namibian protestations that Iglesias had impeded Conrad Marais in the buildup.
Scorned by the unflattering scoreline, Namibia redoubled their efforts. The towering second-row Tjluee Uanivi, who is sure to crop up at one of Europe’s leading clubs after his Pool C performances, produced a few thumping hits and Johan Deysel caught Lucas González Amorosino on his 22, after the Argentina full-back had sidestepped his way through midfield, with a superb covering tackle.
The Pumas had the rather meaningless bonus point on 35 minutes when Facundo Isa was the beneficiary of a perfectly executed driving mail and the loosehead Lucas Noguera Paz flopped over on stroke of half-time for a 36-7 lead.
Namibia are nothing if not spirited, however, and Greyling, who was in the bin for their first try, grabbed their second after Argentina were again guilty of overplaying, the centre breaking from the 10m line under the posts with Theuns Kotzé converting. Argentina responded with the second-row Matías Alemanno barging his way over for try number six but their replacement Marcelo Bosch was sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle on Kotze before Tromp was just short of what would have been a fabulous Namibia try.
Cue a spell of Namibian ascendancy with the full-back Chrysander Botha going agonisingly close in the right corner but it was Leonardo Senatore who plunged over for Argentina’s seventh try after a fine break from Agulla on the left. Moments later Juan Imhoff finished off a wonderful counterattacking move but he was denied Argentina’s eighth try for a forward pass after the referee Pascal Gauzere consulted the TMO. The Pumas supporters did not seem too bothered, still dancing away when the hooker Julián Montoya and Tomás Cubelli got in on the try-scoring act but it was Eugene Jantjies who had the final say with Namibia’s third try after more fine work from Uanivi. The prop Johnny Redelinghuys, off the bench for his 50th and last appearance, took the conversion and missed, but at least Namibia signed off with smiles on their faces.
Argentina: Amorosino; Moroni, Iglesias, Socino, Agulla; Hernandez, Landajo; Noguera, Montoya, Orlandi, Pagadizabal, Alemanno, Matera, Desio, Isa.
Tries: Hernandez, Moroni, Agulla, Matera, Noguera, Alemanno, Senatore, Montoya, Cubelli. Cons: Iglesias 4, Socino 4. Pen: Iglesias.
Namibia: Botha; Tromp, Greyling, Deysel, Marais; Kotze, Stevens; Engels, Van Jaarsveld, Coetzee, Van Lill, Uanivi, Kitshoff, Conradie, Dames.
Tries: Tromp, Greyling, Jantjies. Cons: Kotze 2.
Referee: P Gauzere (Fr). Attendance: 30,198