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

Argentina bounce back from Murrayfield defeat to edge out Italy

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

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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