In an exciting and hard fought IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2014 final the Argentina Pampas XV proved to be too strong for Queensland Reds A, winning 36-21 in Sydney on Sunday.
The Pampas XV was very impressive throughout the IRB development tournament and remained unbeaten in their debut campaign, scoring six tries in the final and scoring 184 points in five matches.
In the third place play-off match the Fiji Warriors – who had won the last five PRC titles – beat Tonga A 54-12 to round off a great day for Fijian rugby as the Sevens team also won the Tokyo Sevens. The young Warriors scored eight tries to three in a typically fiercely-contested Pacific Island match.
Under extremely warm conditions at the TG Milner Oval, the Pampas XV raced out of the blocks and against the Queensland Reds’ development team and took control from the first whistle.
Indeed the Pampas XV playing an expansive style of rugby scored three early tries in the first 25 minutes through wing Manuel Montero, scrum half and captain Martín Landajo and full back Román Miralles.
Mission accomplished for Pampas
The Reds A side looked shaken by the pace of the match but worked their way back slowly. With the Pampas XV playing expansively their opponents tightened the game up and the Reds A forwards were able to create momentum.
The result was a try for scrum half Nigel Genia – the younger brother of Wallaby number nine Will – and two penalties by centre Sam Johnson to make the half-time score 17-11 to the Pampas XV.
Growing in confidence Reds A started the second half as they finished the first and after two minutes wing Veresa Mataitini scored under the posts to give his side an 18-17 lead.
However, the Pampas XV recovered their composure and again controlled possession, and as they pressed the Reds A side appeared to wilt.
The Pampas XV continued to assert pressure and scored a further three tries in the last 15 minutes through Landajo, Montero and replacement wing Santiago González Iglesias. The only answer from their opponents was another Johnson penalt as the Pampas XV ran out deserved winners.
“The goal was to come in search of the right competition and to develop our team and develop it at a higher level. That was achieved so we are happy with the outcome,” said Pampas XV coach Martin Gaitan.
A great initiative
“We did not consider the game against the Reds A as a final but as another opportunity to showcase our game, playing with intensity, being strong in the forwards and opening up when needed. Our scrum was solid and our lineout was better than in previous games. We were trailing at one stage but the players managed the pressure and imposed their structure for the win.
“The Pacific Rugby Cup is an interesting competition as you have Australian teams that play with a lot of speed and momentum. Then you have teams from the Pacific Islands that always pose a physical challenge. The more competition we have like this the better it is to develop our players.”
Despite the loss, Reds A head coach Peter Wilkins thought that his team showed great application throughout the match.
“The team deserves a lot of credit for the intensity they played with today and for their application,” he said.
“We had a clear game plan heading into the match to move Argentina’s big forward pack around the field and avoid set-piece contests and we managed to do that effectively. We put ourselves in a position to win the match but just lacked a little composure in their half.
“The Pacific Rugby Cup has been invaluable. To provide games of such a standard against various international opponents is a great initiative. It provides a quality competition to help players push for Super Rugby selection while also providing younger prospects with the opportunity to play at a higher level."