Argentina have played two good halves back-to-back in this World Cup, the trouble is that they’ve been spread across two games. After out-scoring France 18-3 in the second-half of a Test they lost last week, they shot into a 28-7 lead in the first half against Tonga, in a match they ended up winning 28-12.
It was their hooker, Julian Montoya, who did most of the damage. He scored a hat-trick in 26 minutes, and became the first hooker to score three tries in a World Cup match since Keith Wood did it for Ireland back in 1999. He was substituted just after half-time, so missed most of the gnarly, bad-tempered second half, when the two teams took turns knocking chunks out of each other.
Argentina were 28-0 up in half an hour. They scored four converted tries, including those three by Montoya. The first was from a cunning little line-out routine in which the ball was switched the ball back to the hooker, lingering unmarked on the wing. The second and third were more straightforward, one was from a rolling maul, the other the last in a series of pick-and-go drives.
Montoya also became the first Argentinian player to score a World Cup hat-trick since Juan Martin Hernandez did it against Ireland back in 2007. There was a fourth try, too, as winger Santiago Carreras ran in from the halfway line.
It was shaping up to be a rout, but Tonga got back into it as the half wore on. Telusa Veainu scored after Zane Kapeli, the man who flattened Billy Vunipola when Tonga played England last Saturday, gave Argentina’s fly half Benjamin Urdapilleta a dose of the same treatment.
David Halafiona almost scored a second for them on the stroke of half-time, but was shoulder-barged into touch by Tomas Lavanini before he grounded the ball. The refereeing team somehow decided the offence wasn’t even worth a penalty.
Veainu did score a second for them, in the 65th minute, a fine low finish tight on the right wing after a brilliant back-of-the-hand off-load from Cooper Vuna.
The post Argentina’s Rugby World Cup win over Tonga a tale of two halves appeared first on The Guardian.