Image: Rugby Union – Argentina v Georgia – IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C – Kingsholm, Gloucester, England – 25/9/15Argentina’s Santiago Cordero (C) celebrates with team mates at the end of the matchReuters / Dylan Martinez
By Justin Palmer
LONDON (Reuters) – Argentina picked up their first Pool C win at the Rugby World Cup by dispatching Georgia in convincing fashion on Friday as the tournament prepared to lower the drawbridge for the Twickenham blockbuster between England and Wales.
The Pumas had given holders New Zealand a scare or two in their opener at Wembley but gave their noisy and plentiful support in Gloucester even more to cheer, serving up a seven-try treat as they cantered to a 54-9 victory.
Georgia’s physicality ensured a tough first 40 minutes, but the complexion of the game changed when Mamuka Gorgodze was sent to the sin bin and the Pumas pounced with a three-try blitz.
Wingers Santiago Cordero and Juan Imhoff scored two tries apiece while the boot of flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez weighed in with 15 points, including the tournament’s first drop goal, as the Pumas moved into second place in Pool C behind New Zealand.
Away from Kingsholm, much of the attention focused on the build up to Saturday’s 127th clash between bitter rivals England and Wales. The hype has been unrelenting, with so much at stake in a group that, with Australia also in the mix, contains three of the top teams in the world.
England have won their past two meetings, including a 21-16 victory in Cardiff in this year’s Six Nations Championship, but Wales are hungry to bloody their noses in their own backyard.
While it is unlikely that Wales coach Warren Gatland, as a proud New Zealander, would have any knowledge of Anglo-Welsh wars long since forgotten, he will have fired up his troops to storm the citadel of English rugby.
Gatland, his ire ignited earlier in the week when Wales were warned for using non-World Cup squad players in training, is never shy of stoking a fire and on Friday he promised his side would “smash” rugby league convert Sam Burgess along with the rest of the England team.
Hard-hitting Burgess has attracted more attention than most at this tournament and the expectation levels were only increased when England coach Stuart Lancaster named him to start at inside centre against Wales.
England duo Burgess and Brad Barritt’s midfield battle with the Welsh centre pairing of Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams promises to be an explosive affair, though Lancaster’s decision to axe flyhalf George Ford in favour of Owen Farrell has also put England on the defensive.
Farrell responded drily on Friday when asked about the media reaction to his selection, questioning coach’s decision.
“What reaction? People can say what they want. It’s the people inside the camp that count to me,” Farrell said. “External factors don’t matter to us. The people who matter are inside the camp, not outside. All I want to do is my job.”
Lancaster and Gatland know that defeat on Saturday would inflict serious damage on either team’s chances of progressing beyond the group stage.
South Africa, however, would be left in an even more precarious position should they follow the shock defeat against Japan with another against Samoa at Villa Park on Saturday.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has rung the changes after the Japan debacle, but the new-look team will face a stern test against a Samoa side brimming with confidence after opening their Pool B campaign with a 25-16 win over the United States.
Samoa captain Ofisa Treviranus said his team is prepared for all that South Africa will throw at them.
“I know they will come in really hard. It will be a physical game. We know they are really angry because of that (Japan) game,” he said.
“We are ready for that. We are ready to dominate them physically as well.”
Italy and Canada kick off Saturday’s action at Elland Road in Leeds, both seeking their first win in Pool D.
(Editing by David Goodman)
Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.