Argentina XV and the USA both racked up a half-century of points as they continued their winning starts to the Americas Rugby Championship 2017 with victories over Uruguay and Brazil, while Canada opened their account against Chile.
Uruguay's loss to Argentina XV did not count towards the rankings as it was not a test match, however wins for Spain and Germany in the Rugby Europe Championship have lifted those sides above Los Teros in the World Rugby Rankings. Uruguay are now 23rd with the other matches having no impact on the rankings due to the differences between the nations.
Argentina XV 57 v Uruguay 12
Argentina XV were too strong for a Uruguayan side that lost two men to the sin-bin, running in nine tries in Bahía Blanca.
Scrum-half Sebastián Cancelliere scored a hat-trick and number eight Santiago Montagner touched down for a brace as Argentina XV made it two wins from two in defence of the title they won last year.
Notwithstanding Argentina XV’s superiority, Uruguay opened the scoring from a scrum close to halfway. A simple pass from captain Alejandro Nieto to Santiago Arata confused the defenders and the speed of the nippy number nine sent him on an unchallenged run to the posts. Germán Albanell slotted an easy conversion.
Two minutes later though, Argentina XV scrum-half Cancelliere tapped a penalty close to the Uruguayan line and brushed through a handful of tackles to score. Domingo Miotti levelled the scores with the conversion.
After Miotti missed an easy penalty, Uruguay were reduced to 14 men for the first time in the match when Mateo Sanguinetti late tackled Segundo Tuculet after the Argentine had got his kick away.
Argentina XV’s next try came when the ever-alert Cancelliere stole the ball from the grasp of Nieto as he tried to attack from the base of a scrum. With Miotti not as accurate off the tee as he had been against Canada on the opening weekend, the try went unconverted. However, the fly-half atoned by scoring his side’s third try just before the half-hour mark.
The first try bonus point of the competition was secured just before half-time when hooker Marcelo Brandi scored from an attack from deep within his half, after a good run from full-back Bautista Delguy.
Uruguay came back from the break hungry and they were rewarded for their efforts when Nicolás Freitas made a break down the blindside and offloaded to Juan de Freitas, who scored an unconverted try.
It didn’t take too long, however, for the home side to reply with Cancelliere securing his hat-trick from a well-executed lineout move.
More space was created following a second yellow card to Uruguay, and Argentina XV took advantage when replacement Montagner scored in the corner.
Bahía Blanca-born centre Santiago Álvarez delighted the home crowd when he touched down under the posts after 58 minutes before Olympian Fernando Luna brought up the half-century for his team by converting his own try. And there was still time for Montagner to cross for his second and underline Argentina XV’s superiority.
USA 51 v Brazil 3
One year after they were shocked by Brazil in Sao Paulo, the USA gained revenge in emphatic fashion on home soil at the Dell Diamond Stadium in Austin, Texas.
The Eagles ran in eight tries to claim the full five points and share the lead with Argentina XV at the top of the embryonic Americas Rugby Championship table.
USA dominated throughout and were clear winners but having left lots of points out there, because of their own inaccuracy and some stubborn defence, coach John Mitchell will feel there is plenty for his team to work on.
It didn’t take long for the USA to open the scoring, with Aaron Davis touching down in the left hand corner for the first of two first-half tries after the Eagles had turned Brazil over close to their own try-line.
With a heavy penalty count going against them, Brazil lost second-row Luis Vieira to the sin-bin, but the Eagles were unable to capitalise during the 10 minutes he was off the field.
The only other score of the half came when centre JP Eloff, called up in place of AJ MacGinty, showed all his ability and speed to run around two defenders.
The second half opened in similar fashion to the first and flanker Tony Lamborn scored the USA’s third try from the back of a rolling maul not long after the restart.
Brazil’s lack of possession was so evident that when the USA was penalised on the halfway line, Moisés Duque aimed and delivered a monster 50-metre penalty to score their only points.
Close to the hour mark, again from the back of a maul, came the bonus-point try scored by replacement Cam Dolan.
Brazil then enjoyed their best period in the match, threatening the USA line with two five-metre attacking scrums. However, from the second, full-back Mike Te’o ensured the Eagles kept their line intact with a try-saving interception.
The USA roused the big crowd with a strong finish which brought them four more tries. Lamborn scored his second after a good handling move and then, from a tapped penalty inside their own half, the Eagles crossed again when wing Nate Augspurger ran 50 metres before offloading to Te’o. Two minutes later, Bryce Campbell dotted down by the posts after intercepting 65 metres out before, in the last move, debutant Peter Tiberio added the final icing on the cake. Ben Cima’s conversion ensured the Eagles reached the 50-point mark.
Canada 36 v Chile 15
Taylor Paris scored a hat-trick of tries as Canada won their first game of the competition.
The Chileans worked hard but they were largely second-best to a Canadian side who delivered a much-better performance – particularly in the second period – than the one managed a week earlier on a snow-covered field against Argentina XV.
With both the pitch and weather conditions perfect this time around at the Westhills Stadium, Chile started brightly and took the lead in the seventh minute through Tomás Ianiszewski's penalty.
It took almost 20 minutes for the Canadians to score their first try, two minutes after Chile’s Francisco Cruz had been sin-binned, with Paris touching down after the ball was swiftly transferred across the backline from a scrum.
Captain Gordon McRorie added a penalty in the 30th minute and Paris grabbed his second when he anticipated the awkward bounce of the ball and collected his own chip kick ahead.
Paris thought he’d completed his hat-trick with the last move of the half but an infringement earlier in the build-up meant the try was chalked off. There was no stopping him, however, at the start of the second half when he received a pass from Nick Blevins and supplied a neat finish.
Chile came close to scoring in the 57th minute and referee Derek Summers needed a second opinion before deciding the ball had not been grounded. Unperturbed, Los Condores scored the first of their two tries when loose forward Eduardo Orpis crashed from close range.
Replacement George Barton certainly won't forget his Canadian test debut after scoring with his first touch of the ball, before Chile responded with a try from replacement Rodrigo Fernández after a rare venture in the opposition half.
With the last attacking opportunity, the ball was spun from side to side and the absence of Chile’s third sin-binned player, José Ignacio Larenas, meant the visitors ran out of numbers and Canadian winger Dan Moor was able to close off the scoring.
Next week, Argentina travel to Talcahuano to play Chile, Uruguay host Brazil in Punta del Este and, for the third week running, Canada will be at home as they take on the Eagles, this time at the Swangaard Stadium in Vancouver.
Photo credits: Lorne Collicutt (Canada v Chile), Gaspa Fotos (Argentina XV v Uruguay), Travis Prior (USA v Brazil)
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