Argentina defeated Wales 29-17 to become the first semi-finalists of this Rugby World Cup
As soon as the ball sat up from a Sam Costelow popped pass, Nicolás Sánchez must have known. As he got his hands on it and raced towards the line, that was it – Wales’ Rugby World Cup adventure was over, while Argentina roll on.
Not many would have predicted los Pumas winning 29-17. And it was a narrative-packed second-half after Wales went in narrowly ahead, 10-6.
It was also a case of what could’ve been for Wales. With the score at 19-17 to Argentina, on the 74rd minute Rio Dyer broke through the Argentinian defences. With everyone scrambling, he ended up having to go to ground but with it recycled and pushed wide to Louis Rees-Zammit and the flyer dived for the line, Matías Moroni covered across to knock him into touch.
It was one of those sliding-door moments that can end up shaping a Test result. Of course, one of the other big talking points in the game was when – with Argentina pounding forward towards the Welsh line – Guido Petti tried to clatter into the would-be Welsh thieves at the breakdown. In the process, the lock slammed into Nick Tompkins’s face, and the centre went down protesting.
It was brought back up by the TMO but the decision was made by the officials that there was the mechanics of a legal clearout but that there was the mitigation of Tompkins dropping. To the disdain of fans, it went back to a Argentina penalty – while Tompkins was forced from the field for an HIA. We will no doubt hear more about this in the coming days.
And if you want something else a little different about this game, well the referee who came to this conclusion, Karl Dickson, was not the referee who started this match – Referee Jaco Peyper went off injured in the first half.
For all that went on in this one, though, we know that Argentina are the first side into the semi-finals.
After the match, captain Julian Montoya said: “It is an honour, I am very proud to be Argentine and wear these colours. I am very proud of the team.” And you could see the emotion write large, from the intercept all the way through to the final whistle.