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Argentina bounce back from Murrayfield defeat to edge out Italy

The match was moved forward a day because of fears over predicted storms.

Argentina's Leonardo Senatore, left, competes for the ball with Italy's Quintin Geldenhuys.
Argentina's Leonardo Senatore, left, competes for the ball with Italy's Quintin Geldenhuys.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

TRIES BY LUCAS AMOROSINO and Jeronimo De La Fuente made the difference for battling Argentina as they resisted a second-half fightback to beat Italy 20-18 and claim their fifth consecutive win over the Azzurri on Friday.

In a match moved forward a day because of fears over predicted storms in the flood-hit city of Genoa, Italy were looking to build on their morale-boosting 24-13 win over Samoa in Ascoli last week when Kelly Haimona provided 14 of Italy’s points with the boot.

But despite the New Zealand-born fly-half coming good yet again with 15 points, Italy ultimately failed to produce the try that, on occasion, their enterprising play deserved.

Argentina travelled to Italy on the back of a 41-31 defeat to Scotland but had suffered only one defeat to Italy, a 13-12 reverse in Cordoba in 2008, in the sides’ previous seven meetings.

Despite Italy’s poor record, the hosts — given a huge boost by Haimona’s performance last week — had high hopes of ending that sorry streak.

Haimona continued to underline his influence with the boot when he kicked Italy into a 12-3 lead thanks to four penalties by the 24th minute, but the game was brought to life moments before half-time when the Pumas slashed their deficit.

Amorosino pounced on a loose ball to kick downfield and after a sustained period of possession the Argentina winger touched over for the game’s opening try.

Fly-half Juan Hernandez kicked the conversion to considerably reduce arrears on the half-time whistle.

Italy came flying out the blocks in the second half and after a promising charge by No 8 and captain Sergio Parisse, Haimona kicked another penalty from 25 metres out to give Italy a 15-10 lead.

Italy tried to up the momentum, but the hosts were outdone when Parisse’s attempted chip deep in his own end ultimately led to an Argentina scrum.

Argentina controlled and a great ball from Hernandez sent De la Fuente clear to run through a static Italian defence to plant the ball under the posts, with Hernandez kicking a simple conversion to give the tourists a 17-15 lead on the hour.

Italy nerves told minutes later when Argentina were handed a penalty decision at the ruck, with Nicolas Sanchez kicking over for the Pumas to take them five points clear.

Luciano Orquera reduced arrears four minutes later to set up a thrilling finish. But as Argentina were camped in their own 22 a late drop attempt from the replacement fly-half sailed wide of the posts.

- © AFP, 2014

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