Argentina’s national rugby union team, the Pumas, got its first win in the 2023 Rugby World Cup this Friday, beating Samoa 19-10. The match proved a tighter affair than expected, with the team coached by Australian Michael Cheika struggling to show their best game. The Pumas recovered from a bad debut to the world cup, when they lost 27-10 to England.
Branded the favorites before the game, Argentina faced a tough challenge at the Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium in Saint-Étienne. The Pumas needed a win to stay close to the top two spots in the group and a spot in the knockout stages after Samoa beat Chile in their debut.
Things started well for the Albiceleste, when wing Emiliano Boffelli scored the first try of the game just nine minutes in, and then went on to score the conversion. The Rosario-born player stretched the Pumas’ lead thrice, with penalty kicks in the 24th, 35th and 53rd minutes. New Zealand-born Christian Leali’ifano added Samoa’s first points in the 27th minute.
However, in the second half Argentina’s errors let Samoa back into the game A try by Samoa’s Sama Malolo in the 74th minute was scored by Leali’ifano, making it 16-10 and putting the team just one try and conversion from turning the game around.
A penalty by fly-half Nicolás Sánchez just one minute before the end brought some ease of mind to the Pumas.
“We didn’t play badly, we did some good things, we just needed to be more clinical in the scoring zone,” said Cheika after the game, adding that his team was satisfied with the hard-fought win. “Defensively, we put a lot of pressure on them but I’m not happy we conceded a try. In the first half we generated danger, but then we started playing long passes which wasn’t in our plan. We need to improve discipline.”With this result, Argentina stays fourth in Pool D of the 2023 Rugby World Cup with four points, just one below Samoa and Japan. The Pumas will play again on Saturday 30 against Chile at the Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. Argentine time). The match can be watched on ESPN and streaming service Star+.