ARGENTINA took a huge step towards reaching the World Cup quarter-finals with a crushing victory over Georgia in Pool C.
Georgia, on a high after beating Tonga in their opening match, trailed only 14-9 at the interval, but the turning point came five minutes after the re-start when No 8 and skipper Mamuka Gorgodze was yellow-carded for slowing down ruck ball.
Argentina made their extra man count with three tries in six minutes, and finally the gap between eighth and 13th on the IRB rankings appeared an accurate reflection of the two teams’ standing in the world game.
Argentina charged into an 8-0 lead after 10 minutes, with Nicolas Sanchez dropping a goal and then profiting from an attack which moved from right to left and then back again. Sanchez floated a pass to flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and the Pumas were almost queuing up as second-row forward Tomas Lavanini crashed over.
Georgia were handed an opportunity to hit back when Merab Kvirikashvili was obstructed under his own high kick and the full-back supplied the penalty points from 30 metres. Kvirikashvili reduced the deficit further with a penalty from just inside the Argentina half, but Georgia were then guilty of indiscipline at the other end and Sanchez restored the five-point gap.
Georgia had often struggled to break the gain line in possession, but back-row pair, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili and Viktor Kolelishvili, made hard yards out wide and Kvirikashvili landed his third penalty. But the outstanding Sanchez soon stroked over another penalty after the Georgia defence had been cut open by the outside-half’s scything break.
Georgia were punished in spectacular style when Gorgodze was sent to the sin bin, and Tomas Cubelli, accepting Facundo Isa’s pass off the back of a scrum, scored for Argentina within seconds of having a one-man advantage.
Worse was to come for Georgia when Juan Imhoff scorched into the corner and fellow wing Santiago Cordero soon stepped in from the other side for another converted try.
Georgia became ever more bedraggled and replacement Martin Landajo, Santiago Cordero and Juan Imhoff added further tries.