|Try: Boffelli Con: Boffelli Pens: Boffelli 3, Sanchez|
|Samoa: (3) 10|
|Try: Malolo Con: Leuila Pen: Leali’ifano|
Emiliano Boffelli scored 16 points as Argentina kept their quarter-final hopes alive with a hard-earned victory over Samoa in Saint-Etienne in Pool D.
The Pumas recovered from their opening game defeat by England to kickstart their campaign at a rain-drenched Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Argentina wing Boffelli converted his own try and kicked three penalties.
Sama Malolo powered over late on to set up a frantic finish but Nicolas Sanchez’s penalty sealed victory.
Former Australia fly-half Christian Leali’ifano missed two of his three penalties in the first half as Argentina led by 10 points at the break.
The Pumas remain fourth in the table despite what is only their second ever win over the Pacific Islanders, who stay second behind leaders England.
Pumas underwhelm in victory
So much was expected from Argentina before this World Cup after a famous first away win in New Zealand last year and recent away victories over England and Australia.
But the Pumas barely landed a shot against the 14 men of England as they were unable to adapt to the conditions in the face of a George Ford kicking masterclass.
The soggy conditions in Saint-Etienne meant the meeting with Samoa was always likely to be error-strewn game, with limited attacking rugby on display.
Samoa made the first big mistake with 28 seconds on the clock as full-back Duncan Paia’aua was sent to the sin-bin for a needless tackle on Santiago Carreras in the air.
For the second game in a row, Argentina were facing 14 players, but this time they made their man advantage count as Boffelli cut back inside against the traffic and grounded the ball with an outstretched arm.
The wing converted his own try and kicked two first-half penalties to keep chipping away at the scoreboard – something Samoa could not do as Leali’ifano missed a couple of penalties which should be taken at Test level.
Samoa were spirited in defence but lacked any attacking cohesion after the interval as Boffelli stretched the Pumas lead by another three points.
Replacement hooker Malolo smashed his way over the line for the first try conceded by Argentina at this World Cup, and Alai D’Angelo Leuila’s conversion moved Samoa to within six points.
But Sanchez fired a long-range, last-gasp penalty over the posts to move Argentina out of reach and deny Samoa a losing bonus point, which could prove to be crucial in the battle for qualification for the last eight.
‘The better team won’ – what they said
Argentina’s player of the match Boffelli said: “We knew it wouldn’t be easy. Samoa are a strong team. It was a very important win today.
“It was a very tough game. I am happy for the team. Thanks a lot to everyone. The supporters were incredible. We felt their support.”
Samoa captain Chris Vui after the game, said: “Extremely proud of the boys today. I thought the better team won, all credit to Argentina, they were more clinical, so full credit to them.”
On their try in the closing stages: “Yeah, the momentum was swinging our way and we thought we could have come back. We’ve got some learnings to take and a six-day turnaround to take into Japan.”
Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Moroni, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Bertranou; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Bello, Pagadizabal, Alemanno, Matera, Kremer, Gonzalez.
Replacements: Creevy, Vivas, Kodela, Rubiolo, Bruni, Cubelli, Sanchez, Cinti.
Samoa: Paia’aua; Ah-Wong, Seuteni, Manu, Lam; Leali’ifano, Taumateine; Lay, Lam, Alo-Emile, Alainu’u’ese, Vui (capt), McFarland, Lee, Luatua.
Replacements: Malolo, Faumuina, Alaalatoa, Seu, Taufua, Matavao, Leuila, Toala
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
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