Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pumas Maul Scots

Both sides made a slightly nervous start, with Garryowens raining down from both Fullbacks. Hernadez missed a drop goal in the very first minute, and he chased his own kicks like a man possessed.

The Scots conceded a penalty in the 15 minutes, with Felipe Contepomi not able to hit the target. One minute later, Dan Parks [right] made no mistake for Scotland, taking a 0-3 lead.

It was cagey for the next five minutes or so, before Nathan Hines was penalised for a high tackle - this time, Contepomi did the honours and it was back to level pegging, 3-3.

Argentina won a lineout in Scottish territory, and Hernandez went for another of his trademark drop goals, but it floated wide. Two minutes later, the Scots were penalised again, with Contepomi sure with the boot, giving Argentina a 6-3 lead.

Just after the half hour, Fullback Rory Lamont kicked the ball out on the full, giving the Argentines an attacking lineout. They won it, but were turned over. But Dan Parks' clearance kick was charged down and the Scottish defence couldn't beat Gonzalo Longo [left] to the ball, he dived over it and slid across the line. Contepomi added the extras to give Argentina a 13-3 lead, and a significan psychological advantage.

With three minutes to go before half time, the Argentine forwards gave away a soft penalty at a ruck, and Chris Paterson punted the ball for the points, the Scots clawing back the defict to 13-6.

Scotland needed a score to steady their nerves after the break, but instead they gave away a penalty for bringing down an Argentine maul - once again, Felipe Contepomi's boot punished the indescretion and they were 16-6 up.

At 49 minutes, Argentina infringed but Dan Parks could not add the three points from a long range attempt, Scotland's first miss of the tournament. Not a good time to buckle! A few minutes later, Lucas Borges took a wonderful high ball from a Scottish boot, passed back to the Fullback Corleto, who booted it down the touchline, just bouncing out by the corner flag.

Back in Scottish territory, the Pumas won the chance of a lineout, Mario Ledesma's [left] throw found his man and the ball worked it's way to Juan Martin Hernandez who dropped a lovely goal, inching them further in front at 19-6.

After 57 minutes, Frank Hadden decided to bring on four replacements to try and change the direction of the Scots' game. But they were still making plenty of unforced errors, gifting possession and territory to the Pumas - something for which the Argentines made them pay. Even with a man down injured, the Pumas still manage to get themselves into Scottish territory.

In the 61st minute, Scotland woke up, made a great break, the ball going through countless pairs of hands. Finally the replacements had made their mark - Kelly Brown and Chris Cusiter [right] being the men to work it over the line. Paterson's 100% kicking record still stood - the ball bouncing over the crossbar from the left hand upright. A vital score for the Scots, who were back in the game at 19-13.

Three minutes later, Rory Lamont [left] made a second serious error when he knocked a long kick from the Pumas out into touch, giving Argentina a great lineout opportunity. But they knocked on at the rear; the Scottish scrum was in trouble, time to wheel on the rest of the replacements, including Hugo Southwell on for the hapless Lamont.

The Scots had another scrum in their own half, and although they won it, the ball was turned over almost immediately. But Agustin Pichot was disrupted at the base of a ruck, giving the initiative back to the men in dark blue.

No sooner did they get the ball than Argentina turned them over again. The Pumas' discipline was beginning to slip, giving Scotland a great scoring opportunity from a 10m lineout. It was blown when the throw went long and into waiting Pumas paws. They had another go from close to the half way line, but the Scots were having trouble turning possession and territory into the vital points.

Patricio Albacete [left] made a silly error to give Parks a long kick for the corner. Scott Lawson found his man at the lineout and the Scottish forwards rumbled on slowly towards the Pumas' line. The ball was spun into midfield, turned over to Argentina, won back by the Scots in front of the posts. The clock was ticking down, with 90 seconds to go. A crossfield chip went towards Sean Lamont but it went out into touch. Perhaps the move which blew their chances at the Semifinal.

The Scots had one final chance at glory, with seconds to go. Agustin Pichot knocked on in his own in-goal area - the Scots got a 5m scrum but they squandered the chance and knocked on as the clock went over 80 minutes. The canny Argentines have survived for another week - their very first World Cup Semifinal. Go Pumas!
Who knows, we could have a France-Argentina final - finishing the tournament as it began. How weird would that be?

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