On another beautiful, sunny day in Montevideo, Argentina XV cruised to their third bonus-point win of the competition, against Uruguay A, to successfully defend the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge title.
The Argentineans ran in 12 tries in an 82-7 victory that underlined their dominance at the intercontinental competition, following emphatic wins over Canada A (71-17) and Samoa A (85-14) in the first two rounds. Saturday's rout took their overall try tally for the competition to 36, with 238 points scored and only 38 against.
The USA Selects XV took second place, on 11 competition points, after finishing their campaign with a 45-26 win over border rivals Canada A, while Tonga were a point behind in third after a 31-28 victory over Samoa A in the opening match of the day.
ARGENTINA XV 82-7 URUGUAY A
In the last of the day’s matches, Felipe Contepomi’s side put on another masterclass of attacking rugby to brush Uruguay A aside, 82-7.
Unable to cope with the pace and movement of Argentina XV’s backs, Uruguay A spent much of the time chasing shadows at the sunlit Estadio Charrua Stadium.
Following an early altercation between the opposing packs, which prompted a stern word from referee Vlad Iordachescu, Argentina XV got into their stride and had points on the board within five minutes when, with the outside of his boot, fly-half Nicolás Cantarutti put a perfectly weighted kick into the in-goal area and Sebastián Cancelliere won the race to touch down.
Cancelliere would go on to score a second before the half was out but the head-strapped winger was outdone by full-back Juan Cruz Mallía who took advantage of the wide open spaces and perfect conditions to record a first-half hat-trick.
Tomás de la Vega, Santiago Álvarez and Rodrigo Bruni also found their way over the whitewash in a one-sided first half, with Cantarutti landing seven of his eight conversion attempts for a 57-0 lead at the break.
Both sides made a raft of changes at half-time but without any significant change to the pattern of play, Argentina XV continuing to threaten with ball in hand and scoring their ninth try within eight minutes of the restart through replacement Franco Molina.
Uruguay did finally get on the board when Juan Diego Ormaechea dived over just before the hour mark for a try which Joaquin Prada improved.
The respite was only temporary, however, as Argentina XV struck back to score three more tries in the final quarter, Bruni bagging his brace before Cantarutti, who finished with a 25-point haul, and Axel Zapata added their names to the scoresheet.
USA SELECTS XV 45-26 CANADA A
Number eight Hanco Germishuys produced a fine individual performance to score four tries and help the USA Selects XV to a second-place finish.
Germishuys started the Americas Pacific Challenge on a sour note when he was red-carded in the opening match against Samoa A, a 48-26 defeat, but he made an immediate impression on his return to side with the first of his tries coming after only four minutes of play.
Germishuys’ second came 11 minutes later before Bryce Campbell and Angus MacLellan notched further tries for a 26-12 lead. Canada’s points came from Kainoa Lloyd and Ray Barkwill tries and a Robbie Povey conversion.
Lucas Rumball’s converted try on 46 minutes brought Canada A back to within one score of their border rivals, but replacement half-back Ruben de Haas put distance between the teams again when he darted over for a try which Ben Cima converted.
The Canadian spirit was still not broken, however, and Guiseppe du Toit’s try and Povey’s conversion on the hour mark gave them hope.
Now only trailing by 33-26, the Canadians pressed forward in the hope of pulling off a sensational win even though they lost tight-head Cole Keith to the sin-bin in the 72nd minute.
But, attacking deep inside USA Selects territory, Canada lost control of possession in midfield and the Americans turned defence into attack to provide Germishuys with his hat-trick score.
With the game now safe and Canadian heads bowed, Germishuys managed to add one more try and a little more gloss to the win before the final whistle sounded.
TONGA A 31-28 SAMOA A
In what was an almost identical scoreline to the memorable Pacific Nations Cup meeting between the nations’ two test teams back in June, Tonga A outscored Samoa A five tries to four to win a back-and-forth contest 31-28.
The Tongans went into the opening match of the day with an outside chance of lifting the Americas Pacific Challenge trophy but later victories for the USA Selects and Argentina XV meant they had to settle for third place overall.
They started impressively and had the first points on the board when Jaime Faiva took the ball at pace and powered over for a try which half-back partner, Samiu Muna, converted for a 7-0 lead.
Samoa A were quickly back on level terms though when Melani Matavao was able to capitalise on Paulo Scanlan’s hack downfield.
Tonga responded with two unconverted tries in the space of five minutes from Posiana Kamoto and Muna after La’aloi Leilua was binned for a dangerous tackle.
But Elisapeta Alofipo ensured Samoa A had the final word of the first half when he twisted and turned out of the tackle to score a try which Ricky Pauli Ene once again improved.
Turning around 17-14 in front, Tonga A started the second half strongly and were rewarded with a try for Leiataua Kilifi from a driving maul. Muna added the extras.
Once again, Samoa A struck back, Matavao getting his second of the match before Leilua atoned for his costly yellow card with a try that put Samoa A into the lead for the first time, at 28-24.
It would be short-lived however, as Topui Sekona powered over for Tonga’s fifth try to close out the scoring.
Photo credit: Marcos Harispe, Rugby Uruguay