Argentina Keeps Rugby World Cup Bid Alive With Victory; Ireland, Samoa Win
Argentina defeated Scotland 13-12 to keep alive its chances of advancing to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, while Ireland routed Russia to lead Pool C and Samoa beat Fiji to stay in contention to win its group.
Replacement back Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino scored the only try with seven minutes left last night and Felipe Contepomi converted to give Argentina a one-point lead. Drop goals from Ruaridh Jackson and Dan Parks had put Scotland 12-6 ahead in a match played in wet conditions in Wellington, New Zealand.
The result puts Argentina and Scotland on 10 points, four behind leader England in Pool B. The Pumas, who finished third at the 2007 World Cup, face Georgia in their final group game on Oct. 2. Scotland takes on England the day before.
“Now we are in the front seat in terms of going and playing Georgia and trying to look for qualification,” Contepomi said in a news conference. “We came to this World Cup with very few people believing in this team. It’s a great plus for us that now we depend on ourselves.”
A Scotland win over Argentina would have put both itself and England in the last eight with their matchup next week in Auckland deciding the group winner. All three teams still have a chance of topping the pool and avoiding top-ranked New Zealand in an Oct. 9 quarterfinal at Eden Park. The top two teams in each of the four pools advance.
“Thirty seconds of madness has really cost us,” Scotland coach Andy Robinson told reporters. “The guys are hurting at the moment and I can understand why.”
The All Blacks, who beat France 37-17 two days ago to cement their status as the favorites to win the Webb Ellis Cup, are the only team so far assured of a quarterfinal spot.
Scotland led 6-3 at half time last night through penalties by Chris Paterson and Jackson. Contepomi’s 63rd-minute penalty made it 6-6 before Jackson and Parks kicked drop goals.
With his team trailing by six points, Amorosino received the ball just inside the Scotland half and sliced his way through four defenders down the right flank before touching down. Contepomi added the conversion and Argentina held on for the victory as Parks missed a late drop-goal attempt.
It was the second match at the 20-team tournament to be decided by a single point following defending champion South Africa’s 17-16 win over Wales on the opening weekend.
“We had one or two chances and Felipe did well with the kicking,” Amorosino told reporters. “It was an amazing performance. We know we need to play until the last minute; it’s a World Cup.”
Center Keith Earls touched down twice as Ireland outscored Russia by nine tries to two in Rotorua to seal a bonus-point win. Fly-half Ronan O’Gara missed only one of his eight kicks at goal to finish with 15 points.
Ireland, which upset two-time world champion Australia on Sept. 17, has 13 points through three games and will take a three-point lead over the Wallabies into next weekend’s final round of Pool C games.
“We needed to back up the performance from last weekend,” Ireland captain Leo Cullen said in a televised interview. “It was important that we carry on the momentum.”
Ireland, which isn’t yet guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals, can win the group by beating Six Nations rival Italy on Oct. 2. The Italians first play the U.S. tomorrow.
Fergus McFadden, Sean O’Brien, Isaac Boss, Earls and Andrew Trimble all scored first-half tries to put Ireland 36-0 up at the break. Earls went over for his second before Vasily Artemyev and Denis Simplikevich ran in tries for the Russians.
Rob Kearney, Shane Jennings and Tony Buckley touched down in the last 15 minutes to lift the winning margin to 50 points.
“It would be a huge waste of opportunity if we went home next week,” O’Gara told reporters.
A day after the All Blacks attracted a crowd of 60,856 at Eden Park for their win over France, Samoa and Fiji drew just 529 fewer for their Pacific Islands matchup.
Fly-half Tusi Pisi kicked all Samoa’s first-half points, including a drop goal, and added a penalty five minutes after the break to put the two-time quarterfinalist 15-0 up.
“This game is all about pressure,” Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger said in a televised interview. “If you want to win this sort of match against a strong side like Fiji you have to make sure you get your points when you get down in their 22.”
Scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i wriggled his way through the Fijian defense for the game’s first try before Fiji hit back in the 67th minute with a converted try from flanker Netani Talei. Samoa responded immediately when full-back Paul Williams scythed through a gap before sending No. 8 George Stowers over in the corner. Williams converted to make it 27-7.
The win gave Samoa 10 points in Pool D before its final group match on Sept. 30 against South Africa, which tops the group with 14 points. Wales could join Samoa on 10 points by beating last-place Namibia in today’s only game.
“We’ve come into this tournament with a goal and we knew we had to beat either one of South Africa or Wales,” Samoa assistant coach Brian McLean said in a news conference. “We failed with the first one so we’ll be doing everything in our power to try and beat South Africa.”
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