Written by Max Sharp.
Having completely written them off as contenders for The Rugby Championship, I'll now have to eat my words and say that Argentina, having beaten the All Blacks 25-18, to back up a massive victory over the Wallabies, could indeed lift the trophy for the first time in their history. After a shaky scrum in the first half, the boot of Emiliano Boffelli carried Michael Chieka's team to the finish line, as they transition into the Felipe Contepomi era; Contepomi is said to be taking over as Head Coach in 2024. Los Pumas deserve plenty of praise for this effort, so let's read through from jersey number 1, through to jersey 15 (the bench weren't deployed until very late), to see how they went!
The Match Review of the Los Pumas win over the All Blacks, as uploaded to YouTube.
Los Pumas Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Thomas Gallo (5/10)
Made 13 tackles in his 57 minutes, but still needs to grow into test rugby, having played his 7th test in the upset victory. Didn't perform too well in the scrum, but made 4 metres off his only carry. Potential is definitely there.
Hooker - Julian Montoya (7/10)
Simply put, the number 2 has assured himself as the right man to captain his team. Montoya won 2 well-timed turnovers, while making a big haul of 18 tackles before being hooked off with just 2 minutes left. Lineout throwing could be better next week.
Tighthead Prop - Joel Sclavi (3/10)
Not very convincing at all; being smashed in the scrum by Ethan de Groot. At 1.88m and 144kg, he has the size to dominate at test level, but perhaps not the technique. Sclavi's 9 tackles were the second-least out of the starting forwards.
Lock 4 - Matias Alemanno (6/10)
The veteran bought his best to the ruck clean outs, but ran just 2 metres off his 2 carries. A strong defensive performance with 12 tackles, but appeared the weaker lineout option. Off for Guido Petti in the 61st minute.
Lock 5 - Tomas Lavanini (8/10)
Has been infamous for discipline since a 2014 cheap shot on Richie McCaw, but held it together aside from a brief scuffle. A strong workrate saw Lavanini run 10 metres off 8 carries, while putting in some dominant tackles, with a count of 17/18. 2 turnovers were also good to see.
Openside Flanker - Juan Martin Gonzalez (8/10)
A bit of a spring chicken for test level at 21 years old, but looks a brilliant prospect. Made just 7 tackles (the jersey number he'd wear if he was a Kiwi) but did well at slowing opposition ball. Strong carrying with 26 metres off 3 carries, while he beat 3 defenders and made 1 clean break to score Argentina's only try.
Blindside Flanker - Marcos Kremer (9/10)
The number 7 had a 50th cap to remember at just 25 years old. Kremer used his 2.01m frame to operate as a third lock with quick ruck clean outs, carrying could have been more effective, but topped the tackle count with a massive 26/26.
Number 8 - Pablo Matera (9/10)
Able to play blindside and openside but looks good at 8. Put on a show for his home crowd in Christchurch with 39 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 7 carries, with his 5 passes the most of the forward pack. Made 13 robust tackles and won 1 turnover, to be expected.
Halfback - Gonzalo Bertranou (7/10)
Appears the first-choice 9 and did well in cap number 40. Had a few questionable passes but made 7 tackles, while going for a few snipes with 8 metres and 1 defender beaten off 3 carries. Great to see that there is indeed life after Cubelli.
First-Five - Santiago Carreras (6/10)
The jury is probably still out on if Carreras is a long-term 10, but he definitely had the kicking and passing for the role, standing up to Jordie Barrett on this front. Ran 24 metres off 6 carries as well, proving to at least be the best backup option at 10 for the time being.
Left Wing - Lucio Cinti (5/10)
Had a fairly anonymous evening with just 7 metres off 3 carries, 4 passes and 1 tackle. Mostly remained on his wing, there isn't much to really rate Cinti on. At 22 years old, he perhaps isn't ready for test rugby? Replaced in the 71st minute.
Second-Five - Matias Orlando (7/10)
Found far out of position on the way to Caleb Clarke's try but recovered to make a massive 16 tackles while also winning 1 turnover. Had a cohesive midfield combo with his Newcastle teamate, Matias Moroni, while running 24 metres and beating 2 defenders off 7 carries. Just 2 passes can be excused by the kick-and-chase tactic from his coaches.
Centre - Matias Moroni (7/10)
Not quite as involved as Orlando, but Moroni's partnership with his 12 was evident. Just 2 carries lead to 22 metres, but didn't miss any tackles, making 8. Won a turnover as well, decent performance.
Right Wing - Emiliano Boffelli (8/10)
Although in a completely different position, Boffelli was used almost as an Argentinian version of Owen Farrell, steering the team around with his boot. You'd look at the 4 metres and 1 clean break off 1 carry, as well as 1 pass and believe Boffelli was lazy, but he was anything but. 7/7 kicks at goal was what determined the result, with Jordie Barrett and Richie Mo'unga missing three between them.
Fullback - Juan Cruz Mallia (6/10)
By no means world class, but guarded the back field well on defence with 6 tackles. Produced a decent kicking game, though 4 metres off 2 carries and just 5 passes were disappointing to see.