Julian Montoya's hat-trick paves the way for an Argentina bonus-point win in Osaka

2019 Rugby World Cup: Argentina 28-12 Tonga

Head-to-head

Played – 2

Argentina wins – 2

Tonga wins – 0

Did You Know?

  • The Pumas secured the fastest bonus point of this World Cup, scoring their fourth try in the 27th minute (South Africa eclipsed this later in the day against Namibia).
  • They ended their record worst-ever run of ten straight defeats.
  • Agustín Creevy equalled Felipe Contepomi’s Argentina caps record of 87 when coming on in the second half.
  • Telusa Veainu’s double took him to four World Cup tries – a Tonga record.

Related: Rugby World Cup Fixtures

In a nutshell

Argentina secured the bonus-point win they required to stay in the hunt for a top-two place in Pool C, but they were left with as many questions as answers after losing the second half 5-0 and going scoreless after the 27th minute.

By that stage they had the game in their pocket after picking up the fastest try bonus of Japan 2019, with hooker Julian Montoya collecting three of the four tries. The Pumas had scored two tries from driving mauls against France and as Tonga prepared to repel an early lineout, Argentina worked a trick move in the 5m channel for Montoya to score.

Ten minutes later he crashed over from an orthodox lineout drive and Tonga’s woes were compounded when James Faiva’s pass went loose and wing Santiago Carreras – a Test debutant last month – pounced to score his first international try.

When Montoya went over again on 27 minutes, after picking up from the ruck and charging over from ten metres, Argentina were out of sight at 28-0, Benjamin Urdapilleta having landed all four conversions.

Tonga were guilty of some sloppy passing and, indeed, both sides struggled with their handling in the humid conditions. Unfortunately, the tournament is being dogged by a high number of handling errors, with fluid back play something of a rarity.

Tonga struck their first blow when Leicester full-back Telusa Veainu finished skilfully, Sonatane Takulua’s conversion bringing up his double century of points for Tonga.

Telusa Veainu second try v Argentina

Scoring return: Telusa Veainu (left) is congratulated after scoring Tonga’s second try (Getty Images)

For once, there was no controversy over a high tackle in the match but right on half-time, Tonga wing David Halaifonua was bounced into touch in the corner by a robust challenge by Tomas Lavanini.

Referee Jaco Peyper took a look at the replay and ruled that the Pumas lock had wrapped one arm in the tackle, but the team in the ITV studio were having none of it. “It was a token effort,” said Brian O’Driscoll, “that should have been a yellow card and a penalty try.”

David Halaifonua goes close against Argentina

Controversial: David Halaifonua is forced out by a Tomas Lavanini tackle that some felt was illegal (Getty)

The incident acquired greater significance as the match wore on. Argentina came away with nothing after a long spell of pressure in the third quarter, with Tomas Cubelli becoming the third Puma – after Marcos Kremer and Urdapilleta – to be denied a score after crossing the try-line. The scrum-half was thwarted by outstanding defence by Takulua.

Having lifted the siege, Tonga got their second try when Veainu touched down brilliantly in the corner after a terrific back-door offload by Vuna. The islanders finished the game the stronger and will take belief into their clash against France.

For Argentina, it was a case of job done and with no obvious injuries, Guido Petti collecting a late shoulder knock that appeared to be just a stinger. But they will need to raise their level much further to have a chance of beating England next weekend.

Related: Rugby World Cup TV Coverage

Star man

Julian Montoya was awarded Man of the Match and it would be churlish to disagree after his quick-fire hat-trick – he’s now scored six World Cup tries, four of them at this tournament.

The 25-year-old hooker has only started seven of his 57 Tests and he gave way here just after half-time to the man who’s been in his way, the indomitable Agustín Creevy.

Julian Montoya scores v Tonga

Making history: Julian Montoya was the beneficiary of Argentina’s set-piece excellence (Getty Images)

Montoya’s hat-trick is only the second by a hooker at a World Cup, after Keith Wood’s four against USA in 1999, and only the second by a Puma in the competition’s history. Martin Gallan bagged a treble against Namibia in 2003.

Telusa Veainu, playing his first Test since 2016 following injury problems, should also be applauded for his expert finishing. His skills will be a huge boon to Tonga in the remainder of the tournament. Skipper Siale Piutau was another to shine.

The reaction

Hat-trick hero Julian Montoya: “I’m really happy about how the team played. I’m really happy and really honoured to wear this jersey. This (Man of the Match award) is really nice, but the important thing is playing for Argentina and representing my country.”

On being the leading try-scorer at RWC 2019: “Really? I didn’t know that. That’s something nice but the most important thing is playing for my country, my family, my friends, my girlfriend and all the people I care about. I want to make them proud of me.”

Argentina captain Pablo Matera: “Against Tonga it’s always physical. We were physical as well and I’m happy we got the win.

“The fans were amazing. Every place we go, you find Argentinians there. To everyone, thank you for being here and for believing in us.”

Argentina v Tonga, RWC 2019

Prayer meeting: Tonga players huddle after the match at Hanazono Rugby Stadium (Getty Images)

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu on the Lavanini tackle incident: “I thought it was a try – I thought it was a shoulder charge. If we had got that we would have come out with a lot more belief and confidence. I looked at the front view. He did wrap his right arm and I think that’s why they probably got called off (for half-time). We play by the referee’s decision.

I thought there were a couple of 50-50s we didn’t get. It was critical for us. I’m used to it after four years of Tier Two. You move on.”

“I thought it was a try. I thought it was a shoulder charge” Toutai Kefu

On Tonga’s poor start: “The start was just errors – poor skill, bit of miscommunication. Typical Tier Two errors. But we never gave up. We could have thrown the white flag up but the boys dug in. It shows their character.”

Tonga captain Siale Piutau: “You can’t let Tier One teams get a head start like that. We gifted them two tries and that’s the make or break of the game.

“But I’m proud of how we fronted up physically. We improved our physicality from last week and wanted to bring that into this game, but we brought it just a bit late in the second half.”

Sione Kalamafoni wins a lineout for Tonga v Argentina

Far-reaching: Sione Kalamafoni soars above Argentina but Tonga were again left licking their wounds

The Teams

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli; Matías Moroni, Matias Orlando (Bautista Delguy 66), Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Carreras; Benjamin Urdapilleta (Nicolás Sanchez 54), Tomas Cubelli (Felipe Ezcurra 73); Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Mayco Vivas 44), Julian Montoya (Agustín Creevy 44), Juan Figallo (Santiago Medrano 44), Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini (Matias Alemanno 54), Pablo Matera (capt, Javier Ortega Desio 44), Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lezana.

Tries: Montoya 3 (6, 16, 27), Carreras. Cons: Urdapilleta 4.

Tonga: Telusa Veainu (Latiume Fosita 75); Viliami Lolohea (Cooper Vuna 42), Malietoa Hingano, Siale Piutau (capt, Cooper Vuna 13-23), David Halaifonua; James Faiva, Sonatane Takulua (Leon Fukofuka 65); Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (Vunipola Fifita 73), Paul Ngauamo (Sosefo Sakalia 52), Ben Tameifuna (Ma’afu Fia ht), Sam Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni (Sitiveni Mafi 65), Zane Kapeli (Nasi Manu 52), Maama Vaipulu.

Tries: Veainu 2 (29, 65). Con: Takulua.

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