Argentina Jaguars made an impressive start to their Americas Rugby Championship campaign with a convincing 57-10 defeat of USA Selects to set up a final showdown with British Columbia's Bears in Toronto on 17 October.
The Jaguars, Argentina's second string, and USA Selects entered the inaugural competition at the semi final stage, with BC Bears and Ontario Blues meeting in the other after topping the round robin of four Canadian provinces last month.
A try in the first minute by Benjamin Urdapilleta gave the Jaguars the perfect start at a cold Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, and by half time their lead had grown to 36-10 with Martin Bustos Moyano, Carlos Caceres, Horacio San Martin and Leonardo Senatore crossing the whitewash.
Corey Blair scored the Selects' only try of the first half and despite a determined effort to claw back the deficit, handling errors proved all too costly and the Americans were unable to add to their tally with the Jaguars crossing for another three tries.
The Jaguars retained control of the match, dominating possession with Lucas Barrero Oro, Juan Imhoff and Federico Nicolas Sanchez scoring tries and fly half Urdapilleta taking his own haul to 22 points in the emphatic victory.
"The Jaguars were better on the day, there are no excuses. We made too many errors and they're a strong team so they capitalised on them. The team cannot make these mistakes if they want to compete at this level," said USA Selects coach Paul Keeler.
"However, from here we must move forward and look ahead to next weekend. We'll solidify our defence and work past today's performance - we can't blame fitness, we can't blame the weather, we need to step up our level of play."
The Jaguars will now face BC Bears, who made home advantage count by edging another tight encounter with the Ontario Blues 12-8 at MacDonald Park in Victoria, having beaten their rivals 29-24 in the round robin stages on the way to finishing top of the standings with an unbeaten record.
An upset had seemed on the cards when Steve Piatek kicked a penalty and Mike Scholtz crossed for a try to give the visiting Blues an 8-0 advantage, but Nathan Hirayama recovered from an early miss to kick four penalties to seal the Bears' win.
"This has been a great competition so far and the tight score in this semi final shows you how the teams have developed," said the Bears hooker and captain Pat Riordan.
The Americas Rugby Championship will conclude at Fletcher's Fields in Markham on Saturday with Ontario Blues facing USA Selects in the consolation final, before the Jaguars tackle BC Bears in the inaugural title decider.
7 September - Atlantic (The Rock) 31-23 Prairies (Wolf Pack)
12 September - Ontario (Blues) 24-29 BC (Bears)
19 September - BC (Bears) 8-7 Atlantic (The Rock)
19 September - Prairies (Wolf Pack) 14-13 Ontario (Blues)
26 September - Prairies (Wolf Pack) 14-52 BC (Bears)
26 September - Atlantic (The Rock) 5-32 Ontario (Blues)
10 October - BC Bears 12-8 Ontario Blues
10 October - Argentina Jaguars 57-10 USA Selects
17 October - Ontario Blues v USA Selects
17 October - BC Bears v Argentina Jaguars
For more information visit www.americasrugbychampionship.com.
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