Seven from seven for Pampas XV
The Pampas XV recorded their seventh win from seven starts in the Vodacom Cup when they overwhelmed the Valke 57-15 (halftime 26-10) at the Fanie du Toit sports grounds in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
The match was a personal triumph for centre Joaquin Tuculet, who scored four tries as the men from Argentina all but booked top spot in the South section of the competition with one round remaining before the quarter-finals.
The Pampas XV, as if anybody doubted it by now, are favourite for the title if their performances of recent weeks are anything to go by, and one year on from their debut in the competition the visitors are a vastly improved outfit in all departments.
In flyhalf Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias they also have an excellent place-kicker in the traditional Hugo Porta mould, and on a cloudy afternoon in front of no more than 200 brave souls he slotted eight from nine conversions to leave his own mark on the game.
For the Valke it was their fifth defeat in seven matches, but the men from the East Rand will take heart from a spirited performance, in patches at least, against much bigger, more streetwise and far craftier opponents than they have encountered this season so far.
Incredibly, the match began with four missed penalty attempts by the respective sides inside the first eight minutes, but thereafter the Pampas XV settled down and decided that try-scoring was the more effective means of putting points on the board.
They notched three in the 12th, 20th and 22nd minutes to go 19-3 up after Valke wing Kyle Hendricks had succeeded with an earlier penalty.
Prop Nico Engelbrecht scored for the Valke four minutes later to cut the deficit, but Tuculet scored his second on the brink of halftime to open up a 16-point lead.
The centre then got his hat-trick within seven minutes of the restart to put the matter beyond doubt, before his team-mates made merry with another three tries (Tuculet scored his fourth in the 69th minute) to rub salt in the wounds.
Pampas XV 57 – Tries:
Joaquin Tuculet (4), Benjamin Macome, Roman Miralles, Belisario Agulla, Nicolas Sanchez, Ramiro Moyano. Conversions: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias (6).
Valke 15 – Tries:
Nico Engelbrecht, Willie Odendaal. Conversion: Kyle Hendricks. Penalty: Hendricks.