Eight years later, the Argentines will once again play a quarter-final of the World Cup, on October 14 against Wales, after a great victory against Japan (39-27). The Pumas were pushed against the enterprising Japanese who only cracked in the last ten minutes of the match.
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Dressed in jerseys inspired by the horse grenadiers of the Argentine War of Independence, the Pumas were quick to launch the cavalry against Japan on Sunday October 8 in Nantes. From the 2nd minute, the three-quarter center Santiago Chocobares uses his support and his speed to pierce the Japanese defense and score the first try of the match, transformed by Emiliano Boffelli.
Japan was able to quickly forget this failed start and gradually put its game in place, notably winning the first scrum of the match against Pumas who were experts in this area of play. Scrum half Naoto Saito surprised the Pumas in the 12th minute with a reverse kick in the Argentinian 22 meters, with his back to the opposing defense. An unprecedented gesture which almost allowed his team to score.
It was another inspiration which allowed the Japanese to equalize in the 18th minute, on an incredible action from second row Amato Fakatava on the left side of the field. Like a winger, this player weighing almost 120 kilos attempts a kick for himself which he manages to recover thanks to a favorable bounce and goes to score a try, his third in this World Cup. Rikiya Matsuda is responsible for transforming it and bringing the two teams back to an equal score (7-7).
Returning to this match, the Japanese experienced only five minutes of respite after another hard blow with the temporary expulsion of Pieter Labuschagne for a dangerous tackle. The Argentines lose their precious third row Pablo Matera to injury. They took advantage of their numerical superiority and Japanese defensive errors to launch a magnificent counter-attack from their camp in the 28th minute, concluded in the Japanese goal by Matteo Carreras (12-7).
After two consecutive failures, Emiliano Boffelli added three points from a penalty in the 35th minute (15-7), just before Labuschagne returned to the field. The Japanese did not take long to return to the Argentine camp and scored a second try in the 38th minute following a great breakthrough from Lomano Lemeki who magnificently served Saito. Matsuda takes charge of transforming it and Japan returns to the locker room with only one point behind (15-14).
Mateo Carreras’ hat-trick
After a very lively first half, the match resumed at the same pace. The Argentines are the first to strike, after a long attack phase in the Japanese 22. After a lot of work from the forwards, Mateo Carreras took advantage of a good ball to go for the try after making a nice catch on the last Japanese defender.
With the transformation of Boffelli, the Pumas regain some air (22-14). A lead which was reduced in the 52nd with a penalty from Matsuda, impeccable against the poles. Strong in scrum and very enterprising, Japan maintains very strong pressure on Argentina. Like the fullback Lemeki, author of a drop in the 55th minute (22-20).
The two teams go blow for blow and on the following action, after a magnificent three-quarter combination, Boffelli scores the 3rd Argentinian try which he transforms himself (29-20). The Argentines bring in their experienced fly-half Nicolas Sanchez for the last 20 minutes. Faced with the unbridled Japanese, they cracked in the 69th minute with a penalty played by hand for the Japanese who saw their winger Jone Nakabula score at the end of the line. Matsuda is once again precise and he brings his team to just 2 points (29-27).
The Argentinian response did not take long. After a commotion and a magnificent hook, Mateo Carreras, named man of the match for this match, scored his third try of the match. It is easily transformed by Sanchez (36-27). Once again, the Japanese must try to come back to the score. Once too often. They no longer kept the pace imposed by the Argentinians at the end of the match. And Sanchez, with a successful penalty in the 75th (39-27), further protects his team.
South America, which had three teams in this World Cup, will therefore be represented by the Pumas in the quarter-final. They managed to reach the semi-finals in 2015 and they hope to repeat this performance in this edition. On October 14 in Marseille, they will face a Welsh team within their reach.