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Player Ratings: Argentina

Los Pumas are still alive at the World Cup after sneaking past a valiant Samoa outfit 19-10 in Saint-Etienne on Friday evening.

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Playing in front of more than 35,000 passionate supporters, Argentina took control as they raced out to a 10-point lead in the 24th minute. But there was plenty of fight in this Samoan side.

Samoa fought their way back and made it a six point game with just over five minutes to play, but the boot of Nicolas Sanchez secured the win for Argentina.

15 Juan Cruz Mallia – 7
By the time Juan Cruz Mallia left the field, the fullback had run the most metres out of any player – that goes for both the Argentine and Samoan players. Mallia showcased his impressive attacking ability with almost 70 running metres from seven carries, and the outside back also beat one defender.

The fullback also impressed on the defensive side of the ball with four tackles and zero misses. Mallia’s rating would’ve been higher if he hadn’t conceded two turnovers.

14 Emiliano Boffelli – 7.5
Emiliano Boffelli sent the Argentina-dominated crowd into a frenzy in the 9th minute as he danced past a couple of Samoan defenders to score the opening try. This ended up being Boffelli’s only carry in the opening 20 minutes, but the wing had more than made the most of it.

Boffelli made a big hit or two on the defensive side of the ball, and was on the wrong end of some spine tingling tackles as well. It wasn’t Boffelli’s best night in the famous blue and white strip, but with 13 points to his name, it was far from a bad performance.

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13 Matias Moroni – 5
Matias Moroni was kept very quiet during the first half especially, and while things improved after the break, it wouldn’t be fair the change was significant. Moroni was kept to less than 30 running metres and missed almost 50 per cent of his attempts on the defensive side of the ball.

12 Santiago Chocobares – 6
Just like his centre partner, Santiago Chocobares wasn’t able to make a significant impact on this test. Chocobares showed glimpses of promise and significance, but it wasn’t exactly a brilliant performance either.

11 Mateo Carreras – 7
Mateo Carreras looked lethal every time he touched the ball. The wing ran for almost 60 metres off nine carries in the first half alone, which included an eye-catching half-break down the left edge in about the 39th minute.

Carreras had laid the foundations for what looked to be a great performance from the 23-year-old, but things slowed down. The ball didn’t really come the wingers’ way during the second half, and sometimes that’s how the cards fall.

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10 Santiago Carreras – 6.5
Thousands of fans in Saint-Etienne paused in unison after Pumas flyhalf Santiago Carreras was upended in an ugly incident inside the opening minute. Thankfully, the playmaker was able to continue after avoiding injury.

Carreras made a careless mistake about 10 minutes later, though, as the 25-year-old kicked the ball out on the full from inside his own 22 – Los Pumas had carried the ball back. The pivot made another troubling error shortly after with a wayward pass finding the grass inside Argentina’s in-goal.

But there was plenty to like about Santiago Carreras on Friday night. Without obsessing over errors or shortcomings, the pivot let the team around the park with both skill and poise. Carreras was a reliable playmaker for Los Pumas, and even caused some headaches with clever carries of his own.

9 Gonzalo Bertranou – 7
Some might not agree with this, others might, but halfback Gonzalo Bertranou was one of the Pumas’ best during the opening quarter of this test. Bertranou was able to control Argentina’s quick pace of play with accurate passing and clever thinking.

The test took a turn for both Argentina and Bertranou during the second half as Samoa fought back in desperation. Bertranou was unable to have the same impact on the test but was still strong as the link between the backs and forwards.

1 Thomas Gallo – 7
Thomas Gallo put in a shift against Samoa. The prop worked tirelessly around the park, and would be more than deserving of the ‘work-horse’ moniker as a result. For a frontrunner to truly stand out for what he did at the breakdown is incredible.

In the 32nd minute, Los Pumas had the ball inside Samoa’s 22 metres, and it seemed like Gallo was competing at every breakdown. That passage of play practically sums up the front-rowers promising performance in Saint-Etienne.

Gallo’s moment of the night came in the 40th minute with the prop making a half-break 15 metres in from the left touchline – there was even a glimpse of what appeared to be a goose step!

2 Julian Montoya – 7.5
Julian Montoya is the type of player that any team would love to have as they charge into rugby battle. Montoya, as he always does without fail, leads by example during a tough night for Los Pumas. The hooker was sensational at the set-piece as he hit all of his targets, and was also effective around the field with some strong carries.

3 Eduardo Bello – 6.5
Eduardo Bello packed down with purpose and intent at the set-piece, but the prop was especially impressive around the field of play. Bello led the way for the Argentine front row with five carries and 100 per cent tackle completion by the half-time break. The Pumas enforcer made a brief cameo in the second half but was replaced after just a few minutes.

4 Guido Petti – 6
Second-rower Guido Petti made his mark just before the half-time break. With Los Pumas on the back foot, Petti rose high to snatch a lineout off Samoa’s lineout. Samoa were less than 10 metres away from the Argentine try line, so who’s to say how the test might’ve changed if the lineout had gone to plan?

Other than that, Petti was strong on attack but quiet on the other side of the ball. The lock carried the ball eight times for hard-earned metres but was almost non-existent in defence.

5 Matias Alemanno – 6
Lock Matias Alemanno had a decent night out in Saint-Etienne. The lock put plenty of pressure on Samoa’s lineout – but was penalised once while reaching out for a steal. Alemanno ran the ball six times and made two tackles before leaving the field midway through the second term.

6 Pablo Matera – 7
World-class flanker Pablo Matera was uncharacteristically quiet during a tense first term in Saint-Etienne, but things changed after the break in a big way. Matera won a turnover at the breakdown in the 44th minute – his first major involvement in the test – and just got better and better from there.

7 Marcos Kremer – 7.5
Flanker Marcos Kremer is one of the most impactful players in Test rugby. It’s impossible not to be impressed with the consistently incredible number that the backrower is able to put up. Kremer carried the ball 10 times and also beat one defender, but was especially impressive in defence with eight tackles and zero misses. Another great performance from Marcos Kremer.

8 Juan Martin Gonzalez – 6
It was a bit of a quiet night for Pumas backrower Juan Martin Gonzalez. The No. 8 made an impact at the breakdown but was otherwise kept out of the contest for what felt like long periods. Gonzalez, 22, had made five tackles and run the ball four times before being replaced in the 55th minute.

Replacements:

Agustin Creevy – N/A
Mayco Vivas – N/A
Francisco Gomez Kodela – 5
Pedro Rubiolo – 6
Rodrigo Bruni – 6
Tomas Cubelli – N/A
Nicolas Sanchez – 5.5
Lucio Cinti – 5

By Finn Morton

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