Argentina set up Irish showdown

Argentina 50 Romania 3
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The Independent Online

Argentina set up a Pool A qualification showdown with Ireland on Sunday by comfortably disposing of Romania with a seven–try romp at Aussie Stadium.

Just as they had done against the Irish 10 days ago, the Romanians turned in a defiant display but fatigue is now starting to set in as the ravages of a tough World Cup campaign start to take their toll and the Pumas took full advantage.

Whether Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan saw anything new is open to question.

Two pushover tries for number eight Pablo Bouza emphasised the pack power everyone knows Argentina possess but with the Adelaide encounter which will decide who accompanies Australia into the quarter–finals just four days away, O'Sullivan will have been heartened by a number of basic handling errors by the Pumas.

And he will also hope the crazy fixture programme which has crammed Argentina's games together while offering Ireland one a week for a month, will also have had an effect.

A South American victory was never in doubt once centre Martin Gaitan, who grabbed a hat–trick in his previous outing against Namibia, cut through the Romanian defence from Manuel Contepomi's short pass after 11 minutes.

However, the Pumas pack were given a thorough workout until just before the break, when their under–rated back division clicked into gear.

Full–back Juan Hernandez took advantage of a fortunate bounce, then Contepomi cut through as both men scored before the interval.

Romania conceded again 20 seconds after the break when Nicolas Fernandez Miranda charged down Ionut Tofan's clearance kick.

It signalled the start of a difficult half for Romania as Bouza collected his brace as the Eastern European forwards began to buckle.

Star half–backs Agustin Pichot and Gonzalo Quesada had been introduced by the time Hernandez flew in at the corner for his second and his country's final try.

Though they lacked skills, technique and fitness, one thing Romania did have was the backing of almost all of the 33,000 crowd.

Every break brought a huge roar of approval and when Tofan stroked over a 52nd–minute penalty to put his side on the scoreboard, it raised the biggest cheer of the night.