DYLAN JACK takes a look at the players who shone in an otherwise disappointing campaign from Argentina as they fell out at the pool stages.
BACK: Jeronimo de la Fuente
It was difficult to pick out Argentina’s most effective back, given that they all more or less underperformed at the tournament. However, when one looks at consistency across all four of Argentina’s games, there were few who matched De la Fuente.
The inside centre was one of a handful of players to have started all four of Argentina’s games, and managed to finish three of them, only being replaced for the final 20 minutes against the USA.
De la Fuente tried to get things going for Los Pumas against England, beating three defenders, but struggled to get the support from teammates on his outside. He ended his tournament with a deserved try against the USA.
FORWARD: Julian Montoya
Argentina came into the tournament with big questions over their backline selections. However, Montoya almost single-handedly ensured that was not an issue as the hooker scored four tries, including a 25-minute hat-trick against Tonga. Remarkably, the treble equalled Argentina’s record for the most tries in a single World Cup match and meant that Montoya had scored more World Cup tries (six in total) than any other hooker.
Montoya was effectively Argentina’s second-choice hooker going into the World Cup, having played below Agustin Creevy at both international and franchise level. However, after scoring off the bench in the narrow loss to France, Montoya forced his way into the starting lineup, where he remained for the last three games.
The 25-year-old was incredibly effective on defence as well, missing just one tackle in his four appearances. This included 16 completed tackles in 48 minutes against England and nine against the USA.
Argentina will not have to look far when it comes to replacing Creevy when the former captain eventually retires from Test rugby. Montoya’s performances at the tournament have reassured coach Mario Ledesma that he has a player who is ready to step up.
Among the forwards, both Guido Petti and Marcos Kremer deserve a mention for doing plenty of off-the-ball work. Petti was particularly impressive in the loss against France, carrying 53m and beating three defenders. Kremer, meanwhile, was strong against England, topping the tackle count with 19 and making a few turnovers.
In the backs, young wing Bautista Delguy only needed one game to enhance his reputation with a brace against the USA. His performance should lead to questions as to why a centre, in Matias Moroni, was played out of position on the wing for most of the tournament.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images