By Frankie Deges, in Langford
Argentina Jaguars secured the IRB Americas Rugby Championship title with a round to spare after their second bonus point win of the competition in Langford, British Columbia, on Tuesday night.
Showing solid defence and a cutting edge in attack the Jaguars defeated South American rivals Uruguay 34-0 to maintain their perfect record of 10 points from a possible 10.
With USA Select shocking hosts Canada A 30-10 in the second match of the night it means the Jaguars cannot be caught at the top of the ARC table going into Saturday’s final round of matches.
There will still be plenty to play for at the Westhills Stadium, though, as the three other competing teams are all in contention to finish second to the four-time champion Jaguars.
The 34-0 scoreline slightly flattered the Jaguars who began their scoring spree with two Patricio Fernández penalties. Full back Ramiro Moyano then dotted down twice within the space of five minutes to extend their lead in the 25th minute to make it 20-0. Fernández kicked both conversions.
Defences remained on top for the remainder of the half with no quarter asked or given from either side. Indeed, it was nearly an hour before the Jaguars, who were being matched in the scrum by their Uruguayan counterparts, added to their points tally.
With eight minutes to go fly half Fernández took an inside pass from Juan Cappiello to score the Jaguars’ third try, which he converted himself to take his personal points tally to 17 for the night.
Then, with what proved to be the last move of the game, Jaguars centre Cappiello evaded two would-be tacklers to score the all-important fourth try.
Jaguars flanker Martín Chiappesoni was happy with the win. “We knew this game would be won with our defence and we contained the Uruguayans well," he said. "Our goal was to play good rugby in the tournament and win it if we could, so we are happy to have done that.
Despite the loss, Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine was proud of his team. “The score did not reflect the outcome, but I’m happy that the team never gave up and we kept trying right up until the very end," he said. "We’re here to develop players and these games are very useful to that end goal.”
Deadly eye for goal Joe
USA Select raised quite a few eyebrows when they became the first senior side from their country to beat a Canadian side since 2009.
Mike Tolkin’s team were well worth their win, controlling the game throughout and scoring three tries to Canada A’s one.
Full back Joe Cowley enjoyed a flawless evening with the boot, kicking all six of his attempts at goal for a 15-point haul in the 30-10 win.
Canada A fly half Giuseppe du Toit opened the scoring with an eighth minute penalty, but it was to be an hour before they added to their tally through Conor Trainor’s try under the posts.
In between times USA Select dominated, especially at the breakdown where the back row trio of flankers Daniel Barrett and Derek Asbun and number 8 Cameron Dolan were magnificent.
All three combined well for Barrett to register USA Select’s second try on 56 minutes, which was sandwiched neatly by scores in each half from wing Toby Maupin, the second coming a minute from time.
Speaking afterwards, proud captain Philip Thiel said: “It was my first game as skipper and my first win against a Canadian team so I am delighted. Not only that, we played very well, didn’t make many mistakes and played physically, as we had intended. We will now aim to finish second in the ARC."
Wing Jordan Wilson-Ross, arguably one of the Canadians’ stand-out players, acknowledged they were beaten by the better side. “It was a very tough game; they had a good game plan and they defended very well,” he said.
The fourth edition of the IRB Americas Rugby Championship will conclude on Saturday when Uruguay and USA Select kick-off at 15:00 local time, with the last game to start at 17:00 with Canada A tackling Argentina Jaguars.