Argentina hold off Italy

2013-11-23 18:42
Juan Imhoff (Getty Images)

Rome - Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez kicked 14 points to help a defensively-astute Argentina to a deserved 19-14 win over Italy in the hosts' final Test of the November series on Saturday.

Argentina, thumped 40-6 by Wales last week, came to the Italian capital looking for their first win of their European tour, having also succumbed to England at Twickenham.

And the Pumas produced a solid defensive display at a rain-hit Olympic Stadium as a Sanchez drop goal six minutes from the whistle Sent Italy back to the drawing board.

After a 50-20 humiliation by Australia two weeks ago and a narrow 37-31 win against Fiji last week, Jacques Brunel's Italy were desperate for a win that would help boost morale after an unimpressive series.

But despite showing glimpses of positive, attacking rugby, they were left to rue what might have been as Tommaso Allan, making his full debut alongside Michele Campagnaro, missed several chances with the boot.

Allan, a former Scotland under-20 player, hit three penalties in the first half.

But even before the break he had shown nerves and Argentina ultimately went in for the break 10-9 to the good after Sanchez had converted Juan Imhoff's 20th minute try and added a penalty.

Heavy rain and a lack of discipline from both sides had ended early hopes for a flowing, open game of rugby fairly quickly but the second half started in more positive fashion.

Italy pushed into Argentina's 22 and were awarded a penalty when No. 8 Benjamin Macome was penalised for upending scrun-half Edoardo Gori.

Allan, however, spurned the chance to restore Italy's lead when he drove his effort just wide of the left upright.

Italy enjoyed a dominant spell but were meeting plenty of resistance and Allan's miss was felt when Sanchez sent an easy penalty over to give Argentina a 13-9 lead on 55 minutes after Martin Castrogiovanni had been penalised at the ruck.

Italy set up camp in Argentina's half but were failing to breach the Pumas backline and were only given a boost when Marcos Ayerza was sent to the sin-bin.

After winning the line-out, Italy worked the ball metres from the tryline and were eventually rewarded just after the hour.

It took a video decision but Campagnaro was credited with the try having got his finger to the ball after Allan's smart cross-kick had escaped the hands of Luke McLean and Giovanbattista Venditti.

From a tight angle Allan missed the conversion to leave Italy with a slim one-point lead and after one Sanchez penalty miss from distance the fly-half soon had the visitors 16-14 in front with another three-pointer after an Italian infringement at the ruck.

Argentina welcomed Ayerza back and had soon set up camp close to Italy's tryline, and when Sanchez collected Tomas Cubelli's pass he colly fired over the drop to extend the visitors' lead to 19-14.

Read more on:    argentina  |  rugby

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