It wasn’t routine, but five tries and a win was fine reward for Argentina after trading blows with Tonga. The Pacific Islanders have nothing left to fight for in this World Cup, other than pride, but they played their part in an entertaining affair.
Indeed Tonga came roaring out of the blocks, but their tries from Kurt Morath and big man Soane Tonga’uiha couldn’t contend with the breakout powers of the Pumas, whose class told in the end as they scored five tries – with Tuculet, Imhoff, Sanchez, Montoya, and Cordero all crossing the whitewash.
Attacking enterprise – Right from the off the Tongans were attacking. Morath was full of mischief and it did the neutrals no end of good to see Tonga’uiha finish off a sublime try that saw Telusa Veainu scoot up the touchline. Argentina replied in kind, with their back three darting round the fringes after big men like Ramiro Herrera and Agustin Creevy busted up the middle.
This was never going to be the game for you if you wanted kicking chess and set-plays standing in staccato again midfield drudgery. At times this was like rugby pinball, but it was fun. Forget the structure.
Maradona in Leicester – Yes, that’s right. Diego Maradona – the footballing legend himself – was in the stand of the Leicester City Stadium, wildly gesticulating and generally ramping up the crowd. What a treat for the Pumas fans.
Super Sanchez – Argentina’s fly-half has banished any memories of a poor Rugby Championship, kicking well, pushing his team forward and even dotting down. His efforts here made him this World Cup’s top point-scorer.
Tongans getting turned over – Playing at pace the Tongan attackers like Vunga Lilo, Joe Tuineau and Telusa Veainu looked threatening, but whenever they got caught on their own the Pumas had plenty of space to counter-attack. Martin Landajo was always blessed with options whenever Tonga coughed up the ball.
High tackles – Fairly early referee Jaco Peyper had to pull Nili Latu aside and warn him about the number of high shots going in from the defensive line. Tonga were fighting for their World Cup survival and rightly pumped up, but with the eyes on them they forgot all their defensive shape and left a lot of space for Argentina to attack.
8 – The number of tries Juan Imhoff has now scored for boss Daniel Hourcade.
2 – The number of scrums Argentina lost in this match.
61% – The Tongan territory in this match.
Argentina: J Tuculet; S Cordero, M Moroni (S Gonzalez Iglesias 71), J De la Fuente, J Imhoff (H Agulla 58); N Sanchez, M Landajo (T Cubelli 67); M Ayerza (L Noguera 67), A Creevy (J Montaya 67), R Harrera (JP Orlandi 67), G Petti (M Alemanno 66), T Lavanini, P Matera, JM Fernandez Lobbe, L Senatore (F Isa 51).
Tries (5): Tuculet, Imhoff, Sanchez, Montoya, Cordero Cons: Sanchez 4 Pens: Sanchez 4
Tonga: V Lilo (T Halaifonua 71); T Veainu, S Piutau, S Piukala (L Fosita 50), F Vainikolo; K Morath, S Takulua (S Fisilau 71); S Tonga’uiha (S Taumalola 61), E Taione (A Lutui 61), H ‘Aulika (S Puafisi 71), L Lokotui, J Tuineau (S Mafi 67), S Kalamafoni, N Latu, V Ma’afu (O Fonua 62).
Tries (2): Morath, Tonga’uiha Pens: Morath 2
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Man of the Match: Nicolas Sanchez
Attendance: 29, 124