Rugby-Argentina back on song on the pitch and in the stands

  • Rugby
  • Saturday, 23 Sep 2023

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Pool D - Argentina v Samoa - Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne, France - September 22, 2023 Argentina's Emiliano Boffelli scores their first try REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

SAINT ETIENNE, France (Reuters) - Argentina got their World Cup campaign back on track with a 19-10 victory over Samoa on Friday and, even just for the incredible support from their boisterous fans, neutrals will hope they can carry on into the quarter-finals and maybe beyond.

Two weeks ago the Puma fans brought noise and colour to Marseille's Velodrome but quickly fell silent as their team were swept away by 14-man England.

At St Etienne's Stade Geoffroy Guichard, however, the din was relentless and reminiscent of the local football team's glorious European nights of the 1970s as their team made all the running against a tough but error-strewn Samoan side.

When Nicolas Sanchez thumped over a huge penalty at the death to settle their nerves after Samoa had closed to within six points, the roar from the stands was deafening.

"Thanks a lot to everyone, the supporters were incredible. We felt their support," said Emiliano Boffelli after his 16-point man of the match performance.

Captain Julian Montoya, agreed: "Thank you to all the people of Argentina who are here," he said. "The support they gave us was very loud so we felt like we were at home."

Their Australian coach Michael Cheika said of the fans: "They give everything and we want to give them something back on the field. We love our supporters, they’re awesome."

The victory puts Argentina right back in the Pool D mix, and with games against Chile and Japan to come, they look favourites to advance to the quarter-finals alongside England.

"It’s a massive victory for us," said Montoya. "It was very important for this tournament. We started the last game against England and didn't do what we were supposed to do. Today we did it pretty well and the fight of the team was awesome. Still a lot of things to improve but that's exciting at the same time."

Argentina should have had the game dead and buried but turned down several penalty shots for kicks to the corner, only to fail to turn those opportunities into points.

They were somewhat fortunate that Samoa made so many handling errors and will need to be more switched on particularly against Japan in what is shaping up to be a decisive fixture.

"We did a lot of good things but we lacked a bit of clinical edge down at the scoring zone," Cheika said. "There are things we can do a lot better. We need to improve. There is still a lot of work to do."

(Writing by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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