Rugby World Cup: Pumas miss out on bronze as England eke out win

A poor start cost the Argentine team, who fought back in the second half

Argentina’s men’s national rugby team lost 26-23 to England in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off. The Pumas were after their second bronze medal in the Rugby World Cup, having won it in 2007, but lost by an inch.

The Argentine team showed nerves early on, giving up a few fouls, which allowed England to get the lead through a penalty by Owen Farrell just two minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Ben Earl sneaked through the Albiceleste defense to score the first try of the night. Farrell scored the conversion sending the Pumas 10-0 down. Three minutes later, another penalty by Farrell gave England three more points.

However, as the game progressed Argentina got a foothold. In the 23rd minute, a penalty scored by Emiliano Boffelli reduced the lead to 13-3, and although another Farrell penalty made it 16-3, the Pumas put together a great move, widening the pitch to get into English territory and wrapping it up with a Tomás Cubelli try, which Boffelli converted to make it 16-10. England pushed late on, but Argentina resisted to close a very tightly contested first half.

The second half started differently for the Pumas. Pressing high from the opening kick, Santiago Carreras recovered the ball and made an excellent run to score Argentina’s second try, with Boffelli scoring for a 17-16 Argentina lead .

It wouldn’t last. From the start of the next play, England’s Theo Dan blocked Carreras’s kick and scored another try, which Farrell scored to make it 23-17. With Argentina looking much better in defense, a penalty scored by Boffelli put it at arms’ length 23-20.

In the 64th minute, with England unable to break through, Farrell extended the lead to 26-20, but just three minutes later substitute Nicolás Sánchez converted a penalty to cut it to 26-23. In the 74th minute, Sánchez had the chance to tie the game with a penalty but narrowly missed.

Argentina pushed hard in the dying moments, with a run by Mateo Carreras lifting fans off their seats, but England recovered the ball and cooled the match to wrap up a narrow victory.

“It’s hard to analyze anything now,” said scrum half Tomás Cubelli, one of only five players capped over 90 times for the Pumas. “Today we could’ve gotten a medal or walked away empty handed. Right now I feel we’re walking away empty handed, but we actually gained a lot. We couldn’t manage it, sport is like that sometimes.

He added that England had played particularly well early on in the match. “They didn’t do much more than us, they were better in the one-on-ones and were very disciplined. We managed to get back into the game, we put together good plays with the ball, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll learn a lot and take a lot of things that we’ll appreciate later, but it’s hard to see that now.”

Lock Marcos Kremer, who leads the World Cup in minutes played and tackles, said the loss was “a bitter pill to swallow.” 

“We didn’t play badly overall, but had shaky stints,” he said. “It was a final for us. We knew that it would go down to the wire, and they came out on top.”

“If anything had been different, we would’ve played additional time and I know we could’ve won there. We lost, it hurts, but you have to dust yourself off and carry on to take Argentine rugby to the top. We have to keep on learning and set our sights on the next World Cup in Australia.


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