Argentina Ready for ‘Battle of South America’ After Crucial Rugby World Cup Win Over Samoa

Argentina players sing their national anthem before the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Argentina in the Stade de Marseille, Marseille, France Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

SAINT-ETIENNE – Argentina are ready for the “battle of South America” against Chile after getting off the mark in the Rugby World Cup by beating Samoa on Friday. Right wing Emiliano Boffelli starred for the Argentinians, scoring their only try and contributing 16 points in the 19-10 success against the Pacific Islanders.

It was a crucial victory after the Pumas lost their Pool D opener 27-10 to England two weeks ago, when their fans brought noise and colour to Marseille’s Stade Velodrome but quickly fell silent as their team were swept away.

At Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffroy Guichard, however, the din was relentless and reminiscent of their football team’s glorious European nights of the 1970s as Argentina made all the running against a tough, but error-strewn, Samoa.

Next up will be Chile in the first-ever Rugby World Cup clash between two South American nations. “The next game is very important for many reasons because we know Chile will give everything to attack us,” said Argentina coach Michael Cheika.

After Chile next Saturday, Argentina will play Japan in what may be the decisive match to see who progress to the quarter-finals. England lead Pool D with nine points from two games, four points ahead of Samoa – who beat Chile 43-10 in their opener – and third-placed Japan, with Argentina in fourth place on four points.

Samoa managed just one penalty kick from former Wallabies fly-half Christian Leali’ifano, until replacement hooker Sama Malolo barged his way over the line for his third try of the tournament five minutes from time.

That set up a frenetic finale but Nicolas Sanchez, coming off the bench to win his 99th cap for Argentina, lashed over a final penalty from just inside the Samoa half to make the game safe. “It’s pretty tough to win a Test match, especially against a team of the calibre of Argentina, with 40 per cent possession,” said Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua.

“In saying that, I thought we created a few opportunities, which was really pleasing to see.” Saturday’s Pool C match in Toulouse between Georgia and Portugal ended 18-18 in the tournament’s first draw, with the result effectively eliminating both sides as they had lost their opening games. Akaki Tabutsadze and Tengizi Zamtaradze scored Georgia’s tries, while Raffaele Storti crossed twice for Portugal. AFP, REUTERS