Left wing Ramiro Moyano scored a hat-trick as Argentina defeated Georgia 45-29 in San Salvador de Jujuy on Saturday.
Argentina, coming off the back of a 2-0 series defeat against a second-string England side, needed a win in their last outing before the Rugby Championship, and it came against Georgia. The hosts outscored the Lelos five tries to four in a match they never looked like losing.
The result will no doubt boost the confidence in the Argentina camp, but their scrumming will be cause for concern. The one area of the game Georgia dominated was the scrums.
The opening half an hour of the contest was a lacklustre affair, with Nicolás Sánchez kicking four penalties for Argentina, while fullback Merab Kvirikashvili slotted one for a 12-3 scoreline. But the game sparked to life in the last 10 minutes of the half, despite Argentina being reduced to 14 players after Moyano was yellow-carded for tackling an opponent mid-air.
Captain Agustín Creevy and Joaquín Tuculet scored in quick succession, but Georgia would close out the half with a brilliant counter-attacking try, finished off by outside centre Davit Kacharava. Kvirikashvili skewed the conversion attempt as Georgia went into the sheds trailing 26-8.
Moyano made up for his earlier indiscretion with a storming second-half display. The winger completed a 13-minute hat-trick of tries, including a well-read intercept effort. But Georgia were awarded a penalty try in-between Moyano’s first and second touchdowns.
With the game all but secured, Argentina fell off the pace towards the end and Georgia took full advantage of the hosts’ lapse in concentration.
The visitors would have the final say in the match, thanks to a well-worked five-pointer by replacement fullback Soso Matiashvili, and a well-controlled pushover try from the back of a devastating maul by hooker Shalva Mamukashvili. Matiashvili slotted both the conversions to add some respectability to the scoreline.
Argentina – Tries: Agustín Creevy, Joaquín Tuculet, Ramiro Moyano (3). Conversions: Nicolás Sánchez (4). Penalties: Sánchez (4).
Georgia – Tries: Davit Kacharava, penalty try, Soso Matiashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili. Conversions: Automatic conversion, Matiashvili (2). Penalty: Merab Kvirikashvili.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Pablo Matera, 20 Benjamin Macome, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Germán Schulz.
Georgia – 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Bitsadze, 7 Viktor Kolelishvili, 6 Lasha Lomidze, 5 Konstantin Mikautadze, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 3 Soso Bekoshvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Subs: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Tornike Mataradze, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 20 Otar Giorgadze, 21 Giorgi Begadze, 22 Lasha Malaguradze, 23 Soso Matiashvili.
Photo: Juan Mabromata/Getty Images