Argentina Holds Off Tonga in Win at 2019 Rugby World Cup

Argentina defeated Tonga 28-12 on September 28 in a Pool C match at Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka Prefecture, Higashiosaka City. Los Pumas held a 28-7 lead at the break.

Argentina moves into second place in Pool C with 6 points, pending the result of France with 4 who face the USA on Wednesday. Argentina faces England next on 5 October, with Tonga meeting France the following day.

Both Argentina and Tonga lost opening matches to France and to England, respectively.

Match Recap

Argentina kicked off with Matías Moroni claiming the kick. Soon after the ball was lost forward inside Tonga’s 22-meters and Tonga cleared. Both teams then had some back and forth action.

A kick ahead by Los Pumas had the side pinning Tonga fullback Telusa Veainu deep inside Tongan territory. A Tonga penalty had Argentina kicking to touch and attacking from the lineout. Scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli offloaded to hooker Julian Montoya for a try in the right corner, which was converted by flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta for a 7-0 lead.

Julian Montoya added a brace after a maul, with Urdapilleta adding the extras, to extend the lead to 14-0.

Winger Santiago Carreras gathered a loose ball to score Argentina’s third try with Urdapilleta remaining perfect with the boot to lead 21-0.

Los Pumas attacked again down the left wide channel but were held up in-goal. From the ensuing scrum, Tomas Lezana picked and Urdapilleta grounded short of the line and then was held up in-goal. Ten phases after the ensuing scrum, Julian Montoya scored a hat trick with Urdapilleta adding the extras to push the lead to 28-0. It was Montoya’s 6th career Rugby World Cup try, an RWC record.

From the ensuing restart, Tonga answered back with a try by fullback Velusa Veainu, with scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua converting to cut the lead to 28-7.

Just before the break, Tonga flanker Zane Kapeli found a gap and offloaded to David Halaifonua, whose attempted grounding was ruled to have occurred after his elbow hit the pitch into touch during the tackle by lock Tomas Lavanini.

Second Half

Argentina had the first sustained attack of the half, but a poach by Zane Kapeli resulted in an Argentina penalty, allowing the team to clear. Tonga attacked from the lineout with a break by captain Siale Piutau. The attack was a short one with a handling error giving Argentina a scrum.

Argentina had a scoring opportunity as they mauled inside Tonga’s 22-meters, however, the ball was lost forward and Tonga cleared.

Argentina elected to kick to touch instead of at the posts following a Tonga infraction. They mauled and then attacked with their forwards with scrumhalf Tomas Lezana losing the ball forward during the grounding attempt. Tonga used several forward picks to give flyhalf James Faiva a chance to clear.

Argentina mounted another attack with two massive Tongan tackles that will certainly be highlighted. Tonga’s defense was strong following an Argentina lineout 5-meters from in-goal and then from a 5-meter scrum. Tonga created a turnover and cleared.

A loose ball was kicked forward by loosehead prop Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, whose chased down the kick and resulted in a Tonga scrum. Tonga had a sustained attack with a strong run by Faiva. Tonga attacked again from a scrum with Cooper Vuna flicking the ball back to Veaimu for a try in the right corner to cut the lead to 28-12.

With Veaimu’s brace, he became the first Tongan player to score more than one try in a match against a Tier 1 nation.

Tonga continued to exert pressure in their attack, however, the attack ended after Piutau lost the ball forward during contact. Tonga had another massive tackle and soon after, a neck roll penalty by lock Halaleva Fifita resulted in a penalty goal attempt by Nicholas Sanchez. The attempt, however, was missed.

With Argentina in possession, a Sanchez chip was grounded in-goal by Siale Piutau for a 22-meter drop. Tonga stole the ensuing lineout for a final attack. Eleven phases later, Halaleva Fifita lost the ball forward. A penalty advantage was played with Tonga attacking from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal. The ball bounced into Argentina hands and was grounded for the 28-12 victory.

With the win, Argentina moved into second place in Pool C with six points, with France looking to reclaim that spot should they beat the USA on Wednesday.

Argentina hooker’s hat trick performance resulted in Julian Montoya being named Player of the Match.

Argentina will likely need to beat England to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals.

Squads & Match Preview

Argentina: 1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro 2. Julian Montoya 3. Juan Figallo 4. Guido Petti 5. Tomas Lavanini 6. Pablo Matera (capt.) 7. Marcos Kremer 8. Tomas Lezana 9. Tomas Cubelli 10. Benjamin Urdapilleta 11. Santiago Carreras 12. Jeronimo De La Fuente 13. Matias Orlando 14. Matías Moroni 15. Emiliano Boffelli 16. Agustín Creevy 17. Mayco Vivas 18. Santiago Medrano 19. Matias Alemanno 20. Javier Ortega Desio 21. Felipe Ezcurra 22. Nicolas Sanchez 23. Bautista Delguy

Tonga: 1. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi 2. Paula Ngauamo 3. Ben Tameifuna 4. Sam Lousi 5. Halaleva Fifita 6. Sione Kalamafoni 7. Zane Kapeli 8. Maama Vaipulu 9. Sonatane Takulua 10. James Faiva 11. David Halaifonua 12. Siale Piutau (capt.) 13. Malietoa Hingano 14. Viliami Lolohea 15. Telusa Veainu 16. Sosefo Sakalia 17. Vunipola Fifita 18. Ma’afu Fia 19. Sitiveni Mafi 20. Nasi Manu 21. Leon Fukofuka 22. Latiume Fosita 23. Cooper Vuna

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