Player Ratings: Los Pumas show true grit
OPINION: Hell has frozen over, pigs are flying and there are a plethora of fat ladies between Mendoza and Buenos Aires singing because history was made on Saturday in Sydney, where Los Pumas defeated the All Blacks 25-15 in the most unlikely of victories.
The Pumas had not played test rugby since the World Cup and the pundits had tipped a healthy All Black victory as the New Zealanders had selected a strong matchday 23 to right the course following a loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane last weekend.
Argentina had other ideas.
Led by the inspirational back rower Pablo Matera, the Pumas simply out-enthused, outthought and outplayed their opponents.
The All Blacks will be bitterly disappointed in being defeated twice in row, with the added sting that former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was on the Pumas coaching staff.
Not an easy day for any All Black fan, but the day belonged to Los Pumas. Nick Turnbull rates the Pumas players:
15. Santiago Carreras – 7/10
A heart-in-the-mouth performance. Early in the match he appeared too nervous for the occasion and threw away possession to touch when the All Blacks were well on attack. Yet as the game progressed, he found his way and contributed bravely to his sides victory.
14. Bautista Delguy – 7.5/10
Ran the ball with intent every time, even when he crabbed across field in the second half. He went looking for work and was physical in the contact. Was urgent to get back in the line to plug a defensive hole when he could. Quality shift.
13. Matias Orlando – 7/10
Solid and secure all day. Wasn’t spectacular but was urgent and physical both sides of the ball.
12. Santiago Chocobares – 8.5/10
Announced himself to the international game with a very impressive performance. He fought hard in possession and made the All Blacks work hard in defence allowing opportunities to occur outside him. Outplayed Jack Goodhue, who is a seasoned international. One swallow doesn’t create a summer but this kid could be something special.
11. Juan Imhoff – 7/10
The veteran almost had the legs to score in the first half but was run down by a desperate Aaron Smith. That aside he did his job with little fuss and didn’t cause his own side too many issues.
10. Nicolas Sanchez – 8/10
A superb performance. Sanchez orchestrated this victory with his scrumhalf Cubelli. They controlled the rhythm and tempo of this match and both knew when to use the short side or the inside ball to wash off All Black line speed when the Pumas were losing momentum in possession.
9. Tomas Cubelli – 8/10
As said with Sanchez, this veteran scrumhalf was critical in Saturday’s victory with the execution of his box-kicking coupled with his option-taking. He seldom made his forwards work hard in areas they didn’t need to. Got the better of the world’s best 9.
8. Rodrigo Bruni – 8/10
Intelligent and tough all day. Slowed down the All Blacks’ go forward with his physicality and was a handful working the short side in possession. Wasn’t awestruck and outplayed Ardie Savea which isn’t an easy thing to do.
7. Marcos Kremer – 8/10
Absolute beast. Absolute penalty magnet but appeared to have orders to seek and destroy, and Kremer did that. He wanted to take on the All Blacks physically in everything, and despite giving away four penalties, he was the hungriest out there.
6. Pablo Matera (captain) – 9/10
Brilliant captaincy on display when he reminded referee Angus Gardner that he was playing for his country and the All Blacks were not respecting that. New Zealand were out-enthused and that enthusiasm came from him from the start to the finish with his physicality and his ability to turnover the ball when his side was under pressure. A definitive performance.
5. Matias Alemanno – 8/10
Worked hard from beginning to end. While Sam Whitelock was the best lock on the park, Alemanno was dependable and did his job and did it well, especially in slowing down All Blacks ball.
4. Guido Petti – 8/10
Carbon copy of his locking partner Alemanno. Just tireless and tough all day.
3. Francisco Gomez Kodela – 8/10
Mammoth effort against Joe Moody in the scrum. Was hard working around the recycle and in the tight.
2. Julian Montoya – 8.5/10
Was superb over the ball and in the set-piece. The veteran rake played with guile and critically helped slow down the All Black rhythm. A performance befitting of his experience.
1. Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo – 7.5/10
Akin to Kodela, he was superb in the scrum but also in the tight, despite dropping off a few tackles.
16. Facundo Bosch – N/A
On in the 77th
17. Mayco Vivas – NA
On in the 72nd
18. Santiago Medrano – NA
On in the 72nd
19. Santiago Grondona – 7/10
On in the 54 for his debut and didn’t disappoint.
20. Tomas Lezana – NA
21. Gonzalo Bertranou -NA
On in the 77th
22. Lucio Cinti – NA
23. Santiago Cordero – NA
On in the 30th off in the 40th
By Nick Turnbull, @RugbyPass