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22 Sep 2007 22:50
Argentina hammered Namibia 63-3 in Marseille on Saturday, winning a vital bonus point to take pole position in pool D and a big step towards qualifying for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
The Pumas’ place as either number one or two in the group will now be decided by the result of their final game against under-par Ireland in Paris on September 30, with France expected to beat Georgia in their game on the same day and gain a bonus point.
Crucially, the team who finish second overall in the pool are drawn against tournament favourites New Zealand in the quarterfinals in Cardiff, while the top team will likely play either Scotland or Italy.
The Pumas, who had already beaten France (17-12) and Georgia (33-3), scored nine tries through Rodrigo Roncero, Juan Manuel Leguizamon (two), Manuel Contempomi, his brother Felipe Contempomi, Gonzalo Tiesi, Igancio Corleto and Federico Todeschini, as well as a penalty try.
Felipe Contempomi also contributed a further 14 points with the boot before going off with 20 minutes to play.
Namibia’s third-choice outside-half Morne Schreuder opened the scoring with a seventh-minute penalty, but his under-powered team was never in the reckoning to avoid extending their World Cup losing streak to 10 matches.
Contempomi quickly hit back with two penalties of his own, making up for the early play of the Pumas’ backs, which was marred by a string of forward passes and knock-ons.
Despite Argentina’s well-drilled forward pack completely dominating Namibia in the set pieces, the African minnows, led by irrepressible openside flanker Jacques Burger, were always eager at the breakdown, forcing a number of turnovers.
The Pumas finally scored a try in the 27th minute through prop Roncero, bundled over after a powerful rolling maul.
The forwards were again on hand to destroy the Namibian scrum from 5m out, and number eight Leguizamon had no problem crashing over.
Argentina scored a third try on the stroke of half-time in a rare successful flowing move, with Tiesi’s long pass finding Manuel Contempomi who did well to touch down in the corner despite a desperate tackle by the covering Heini Bock.
Felipe Contempomi hit the touch-line conversion and opened the scoring early in the second half, sidestepping Schreuder and gliding in under the posts for a try he also converted.
Leguizamon waltzed over for his second, and with the Namibian defence caught napping, Tiesi crossed for a well-deserved try.
Full-back Corleto was next to touch down, swiftly followed by a penalty try awarded by Australian referee Stuart Dickinson after the under-pressure Namibian scrum had collapsed once too often on their line.
Replacement Todeschini—who was almost on the verge of being sent home earlier in the week because of a worry over an injury—also scored as the game wound down with a raft of replacements in the last quarter.—AFP
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