IRB Pacific Rugby Cup newcomers Argentina Pampas XV were the only touring side to taste victory on their first outings in 2014 after beat ACT A – the Brumbies development side – 32-23 at the Royal Military College in Canberra on Sunday.
The Pampas XV went behind to early tries from Matt Hawke and captain Tim Cree, but battled their way back with fly half Patricio Fernández touching down two tries after interceptions and adding 12 points with the boot.
The majority of the Pampas XV squad have cut their teeth on the IRB Junior World Championship stage in recent years, including Fernández who was the top scorer at the 2013 edition in France when Argentina finished seventh.
“We’ve got more tough games against some quality opposition from all over the Pacific and this is a great opportunity for our guys to test themselves against the best,” said Cree, who scored a second try in his side’s defeat.
The Fiji Warriors’ campaign for a sixth successive Pacific Rugby Cup title got off to a losing start after a narrow 22-19 defeat by the Reds A team at Ballymore, the home side outscoring their visitors by four tries to three.
Losing start for Warriors
The Reds A, who had lost to the Western Force A in their opening match, defended solidly in the first half and put pressure on the Fijians, preventing them from making effective offloads and going in leading 5-0 after Jamie-Jerry Taulagi’s early try.
Fly half Waisea Luvenyali gave the Warriors the perfect start to the second half with a breakaway try in the first minute, but Wallaby Rod Davies edged the Reds A team back in front after a 50-metre run-in.
Nemani Nagusa cut the deficit to 12-10 before tries from number 8 Tim Buchanan and Nigel Ah-Wong edged the Reds A side out beyond one score. The Warriors did get another try through Savenaca Nawaca but the home side’s defence held firm in the final 10 minutes to secure the win.
A day earlier on the other side of the country, Junior Japan were involved in another high-scoring Pacific Rugby Cup encounter as they lost their opening match 61-6 to Western Force A at nib Stadium, conceding nine tries in all.
The Japanese actually scored first with the first of two penalties by scrum half Genki Okoshi, but in sweltering Perth conditions the hosts then took control with seven different places crossing the try-line.
Missed opportunities for Samoa A
Captain Chris Tuatara-Morrison and Ryan Louwrens both touched down twice with Dylan Sage, Adrian Hall, Joe Savage, Corey Thomas and Dillyn Leyds also on the scoreboard with Luke Burton converting eight of the nine tries.
The second weekend of the 2014 competition had begun with another tight affair as Gen Blue – the NSW Waratahs development side – held on to beat Samoa A 17-14 at the TG Milner Oval in Sydney on Friday.
Samoa A started the match at a frenetic pace but there was nothing to split the sides at half-time with the scores locked at 9-9. Gen Blue had edged into a 17-9 lead by the hour mark after a try from Cam Crawford and Matt Lucas penalty.
It appeared that the Samoans were starting to tire but wing Anitelea Tuilagi flew down the touchline to score in the corner, cutting the deficit to three points with 12 minutes remaining. They had the chance to win the match but missed two penalty attempts to the relief of the Gen Blue side.
Samoa A will be back at the same venue to take on Tonga A on Tuesday, before a busy weekend of matches sees Reds A take on Junior Japan, Gen Blue face the Pampas XV, ACT A host Tonga A and Western Force A tackle the defending champions Fiji Warriors.
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