11th Place Play-off: Argentina 27-10 Fiji

(IRB.COM) Sunday 21 June 2009
By Yuki Ogawa
From Osaka
 11th Place Play-off: Argentina 27-10 Fiji
Joaquin Lucchetti scores Argentina's first of three tries in their victory over Fiji in the 11th place play-off - Photo: Hiroyuki Setsuda (RJP)

Next year's hosts Argentina finished the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship with a 27-10 victory over Fiji and clinched 11th place at the Kintetsu Hanazono Stadium in Osaka.

Having finished eighth overall last year the South American side wanted to end their campaign on a high and did so despite having Severiano Escobio sent to the sin bin after two minutes.

The Pumitas got the scoreboard ticking over with 14 men when wing Joaquin Lucchetti crossed for their first try after seven minutes having stormed through a narrow space left in the Fijian defence - Tomas Rosati adding the extras.

Four minutes later he was off target with a drop goal attempt, and this miss was punished by Joseva Levula of Fiji as the flanker superbly intercepted the ball and left all defenders behind him to cross the line, with scrum half Kolinio Vunaki adding the extras to bring the scores level.

Then it was Fiji's turn to be reduced to 14 men after 22 minutes but Argentina did what Fiji couldn't and added points with the numerical advantage. Two penalties from Rosati made the score 13-7 at the break.

Fiji did score first after the break, but not until the 64th minute. The Pacific islanders where awarded a penalty one metre inside the opposition half and as Vunaki held his nerve to deliver three points and reduce deficit to three a comeback looked on for Fiji.

However that was the closest they came to the Pumitas as the South American side ensured they would go into next year on the back of a victory in this year's Championship.

Bonilla missed a penalty after 67 minutes, but the resulting ball was knocked on by Fiji and Tomas De La Vega had the simple task of touching the ball down after the resulting scrum was pushed over the line.

Three minutes later wing Pedro Valega intercepted a short pass and dashed over the goal line to add another try for the Pumitas. With Bonilla adding the extras for each try, the gap widened to 17 points with 10 minutes to go.

That is how the match ended and the result means Argentina finish 11th and Fiji 12th at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship - the islanders moving up from their 14th position last year.


Argentina assistant coach Diego Albanese: "It was not a nice game. It was disorganized for both sides. But I think we have a good defence. It was not easy playing against Fiji, because if you lose the ball, it means a goal.
Second half, we did things little bit better, we dominated the scrum and we started to win the game in that area."

Argentina captain Santiago Guzman: "We made too many mistakes in the first half and we gave away possession. Second half, we started to tackle better. We really wanted to win the game.

It will be good to play this competition in Argentina next year. You will have the crowd behind you, and people will be passionate with rugby. I will suggest to the boys that they should enjoy it a lot. Because this will be the once in a life experience."

Fiji head coach Osea Umuumulovo: "This is not the end of the world. We accept the defeat of today. We will come back next year improving on this experience.
We have learnt many things in this kind of high level tournament, especially as we played against professional players. We've learnt lots of things about the differences in preparations. For the next year, we would like to start our preparation from this year in order to play good games."

Fiji captain Kini Murimurivalu: "It was a good game. The boys gave everything today. I'd like to thank them. We will try again next year to improve from this loss.
In this tournament, I've learnt that there are a lot of professional players around the world at the same generation. I've learnt a lot of things through playing against these players."