Pampas XV hang on against Lions
An exceptional defensive effort from the Pampas XV saw the men from Argentina hold on for a tense 15-9 (halftime 12-3) win over the Golden Lions in a Vodacom Cup match in Johannesburg on Friday.
The Pampas XV, featuring six players with test experience, came a distant second in the territory and possession stakes and were at times heavily penalised at the breakdowns and also for their lack of discipline.
But skipper Agustin Creevy and his band of travelling pros, who beat the Griffons 52-29 in round one last week, are a determined lot and, on the back of a solid scrum and tigerish defence they managed to outscore the hosts by two tries to nil in front of a smattering of spectators.
The result leaves the Lions winless after two matches, after they drew their opening match against Western Province in Cape Town last week.
Those arriving early for the main match of the evening would have been disappointed with their team’s showing but would have nonetheless grudgingly admired the way in which the Pampas XV went about their business in eking out a win.
As if the visitors weren’t hamstrung enough by their lack of territory, two yellow cards at crucial stages put them well and truly on the back foot for much of this highly physical encounter.
And yet the scoreboard will read that the Pampas XV, despite missing three from five kicks at goal, took the spoils, thanks to two first-half tries.
The first came immediately after Lions flyhalf André Pretorius had put his side 3-0 ahead with a third-minute penalty.
From the restart, the Pampas forwards, as is their way, rumbled to within inches of the Lions’ line before eighthman Leonardo Senatore barged over.
This close-combat effort showed the visitors’ fighting spirit, but it was the second that revealed their skills.
From a turnover ball deep in Pampas territory, scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli hacked downfield, right wing Mauro Cumuzzi took it on before passing to his wing partner Juan Imhoff.
The left winger proceeded to display excellent footwork and a solid handoff as he evaded six Lions defenders on his way to the tryline.
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez succeeded with his only kick of the day to put the Pampas XV 12-3 in front with 25 minutes gone and that’s the way it stayed until the 44th minute, when Pretorius kicked the first of two penalties that cut the deficit to just three points with half an hour to play.
But for all their possession the Lions simply could not breach the Pampas team’s defence, while reserve kicker Santiago Iglesias’s 71st-minute penalty provided a crucial extra bit of breathing space for the Pampas XV as the clock wound down.
Lions 9 – Penalties: André Pretorius (3).
Pampas XV 15 – Tries: Leonardo Senatore, Juan Imhoff. Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez. Penalty: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias.