Argentina took a significant step forwards on Saturday as a second-string Pumas side handed Italy a 37-22 drubbing in San Juan.
Argentine rugby took a significant step forwards on Saturday as a second-string Pumas side handed Italy a 37-22 drubbing in San Juan.
The tourists were expected to run out easy winners but Argentina – without most of their best players – put on an impressive display of depth to run four tries past the near full-strength Azzurri.
The result will come as massive boost to Argentine confidence ahead of their two-Test series against France starting next week and, perhaps more importantly, their debut in the Rugby Championship in August.
Argentina led 13-10 at the end of a largely uneventful first half but stepped up the tempo in the second period to leave the visiting Italians shell-shocked.
Veteran playmaker Felipe Contepomi finished the game with personal tally of 22 points – including a try – to send a reminder to coach Santiago Phelan that there is still life left in his old legs.
The only other Puma to start the game with more than 15 caps to his name, prop Rodrigo Roncero, also chipped in with a try in his last Test series.
A slow start to game saw Contepomi cancel out an early penalty from Italy pivot Kristopher Burton, but the 21st-minute sin-binning of Julio Farias-Cabello paved the way for the Azzurri to go 10-3 in front with a converted penalty try.
Los Pumas responded however with Tomas Leonardi crashing over to put the hosts ahead at the break.
Contepomi continued to be accurate with his boot as he added another penalty at the start of the second half, but Italy hit back with a try from Edoardo Gori after 53 minutes to close the deficit to three points.
The Pumas soon pulled away though, with Roncero, Leonardo Senatore and Contepomi all touching down.
Mauro Bergamasco grabbed a late consolation score for Italy, which Riccardo Bocchino converted, but it was too little too late.
Italy must now regroup before facing Canada next Saturday.
Tries: Leonardi, Roncero, Senatore, Contepomi
Cons: Contepomi 4
Pens: Contepomi 3
Tries: Penalty try, Gori, Bergamasco
Cons: Burton, Bocchino
Yellow card: Farias-Cabello (Argentina – 20th min – cynical offside)
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Gabriel Ascarate, 12 Felipe Contepomi (c), 11 Agustin Gosio, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Julio Farias-Cabello, 4 BenjamÃn Macome, 3 Francisco Gomez-Kodela, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Nahuel Tetaz-Chaparro, 18 Santiago GuzmÃ¡n, 19 Tomas De La Vega, 20 Tomas Cubelli, 21 Manuel Montero, 22 Roman Miralles
Italy: 15 Luke Mclean, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Alberto de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Lorenzo Romano, 18 Joshua Furno, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Tito Tebaldi, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Giulio Toniolatti.
Venue: Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan
Referee: Jerome Garces