Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

World Cup clash - Pumas prey on Romania

Argentina 43

Romania 8

Romania succumbed to what's becoming a trend for lower-ranked sides in the second round of matches at the Rugby World Cup.

As squad depth is tested, so is the composure and tenacity of less experienced players used as a means of dealing with the rigours of tournament rugby.

Lethargy seeps in after the euphoria of the opening match. It was demonstrated in the All Blacks 83-7 demolition of a much-changed and weakened Japan. Not even a Romanian national anthem whose opening line asks citizens to "wake up from the sleep of death into which you have been sunk by the barbaric tyrants" could provide the required boost.

The Romanians hung in, especially in the third quarter.

Argentina were intelligent in their tactical approach. The Romanian scrum remained a rock but the Argentines had the forward power to match. Coach Santiago Phelan got his charges to open the game up using stronger outside backs. They stretched and exhausted their foe, especially in the first quarter; scoring three tries to take a 19-3 lead.

They would be advised to employ a similar approach if they play the All Blacks in a quarter-final, especially with the expected return of Felipe Contepomi's skills at first-five.

Captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said they had to regather in the second half: "We lost our game plan and structure after scoring our fourth try [for the bonus point]. At halftime we spoke about the need to get back, otherwise we were going to end up tired." Romania's static approach may have worked against Scotland - using runners one or two off the ruck - but it was never going to profit against Los Pumas. It raises questions about next Sunday's Scotland-Argentina match which could decide who takes the second quarter-final spot in group B to become the All Blacks' likely last eight opponent.

Argentina could well have the edge using abrasive forwards like No. 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe to do a power of work in the loose. Openside flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon did not shirk any responsibilities either. He was rewarded with a try that saw him bullock over Romanian fullback Iulian Dumitras in a Jonah Lomu-Mike Catt fashion.

Halfback Nicolas Vergallo also proved a strong fulcrum for Argentina. He darted in and out of rucks and made himself known at the maul to get quick possession wide through a snappy pass. Romanian captain Marius Tincu was in no doubt who will win next Saturday: "If Argentina play physically like today, they'll beat Scotland."

Romania had few attacking opportunities but produced their best late in the first half for a classic winger's try to Ionel Cazan on the left. It came after loosehead prop Mihaita Alexandru Lazar was on the receiving end of a memorable falcon. An Argentinian punt crashed into his skull at close range but the ball rebounded further than it had travelled. It ricocheted well inside the Argentine half, setting up crucial field position.

Watching Argentina and their fan support leaves a sense of progress and popularity for the sport in that part of the world. A thick ribbon of blue and white threaded the crowd and tango music during breaks in play was appreciated with a resonant roar from hundreds of fans in the 12,605 crowd.

"Today and last Saturday in Dunedin has been like playing at home," Albacete said. "Rugby has got bigger in Argentina since the last World Cup which makes us so proud."

Argentina: 43 (S. Fernandez, J Leguizamon, J. Figallo, L Amorosino, J. Imhoff, G. Campos tries; M. Rodriguez 4 cons, pen)

Romania: 8 (I. Cazan try, con; T. Dimofte pen).

Halftime: 26-8.

- Herald on Sunday

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 22 Dec 2014 22:28:58 Processing Time: 517ms