Argentina XV and defending champions USA made the most of home advantage to record bonus point wins on Saturday in the Americas Rugby Championship 2018.
In a cold and windy Ushuaia, the 2016 champions scored seven tries to beat Chile 57-12 in a game that showed an improvement in the visitors' performance compared with their round one loss to Brazil.
Hours later in Sacramento, the Eagles hit their stride in the second half to beat neighbours Canada 29-10 and move to the top of the standings on points difference from Uruguay, who had beaten Brazil 27-18 on Friday.
ARGENTINA XV 57-12 CHILE
With the wind coming down from the Andes and on to the Beagle Channel, the Estadio Agustín Pichot in Ushuaia made kicking extremely difficult and both teams were forced to control the ball as much as they could possibly could.
A dominant scrum was crucial for an Argentina XV win that was far less comfortable than the score suggests, three yellow cards for Chile not helping their cause in the world's southernmost city.
Chile came painfully close to scoring the game’s first try within the first two minutes, but doubts in the attack allowed the home side to scramble and defend.
Juan Cruz González kicked an 11th-minute penalty for Argentina XV and then, after the hosts had been frustrated by Chilean pressure, the fly-half converted number eight Santiago Portillo's try.
Chile full-back Tomás Ianiszewski then got his side on the scoreboard with a tap and run – racing more than 50 metres – just before the half-hour mark try, but the loss of captain Javier Richard to the sin-bin proved costly with Argentina XV awarded a penalty try before their own full-back Tomás Videla's try made it 24-5 at half-time.
The second half was not even a minute old when Chile made light of their man disadvantage with winger Ítalo Zunino scoring in the corner, Ianiszewski adding the conversion despite kicking into the swirling wind.
Argentina XV continued to dominate, though, with centre Santiago Resino and prop Axel Zapata crossing for tries before Benjamin Soto received Chile's second yellow card.
Replacement Francisco Ferronato added a seventh try for Argentina XV before Lucas Avelli became the third Chile player sin-binned by referee Joaquin Montes. In his absence Tomas Granella and Nicolas Sbrocco add their name to the scoresheet, ensuring their side bounced back from an opening round loss to USA.
USA 29-10 CANADA
The defending champions claimed a deserved bonus-point victory over Canada, stretching their unbeaten record in this North American rivalry to eight games since 2013 with a well-executed game-plan.
The Eagles, who had beaten Canada 52-16 in their previous meeting to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Americas 1 last July, dominated for almost an hour of the game and could have enjoyed a much bigger margin of victory had it not been for a few handling errors and the dogged attitude of the Canadian defence.
In the opening 20 minutes, the Eagles were impeccable, scoring two converted tries through scrum-half Nate Augsburger and winger Ryan Mathias with Will Magie converting both tries.
A shift in control saw Canada open their account with full-back Patrick Parfrey dotting down in the left corner, winger Brock Staller adding the conversion but then missing a penalty late in the half to send his side in trailing 14-7.
Staller found his range with a penalty within minutes of the restart, but that seemed to give their hosts a wake-up call and they dominated the rest of the game at Papa Murphy's Park.
Despite this dominance the Eagles were only able to add two tries, flanker Hanco Gemishuys breaking feeble tackles in the 54th minute before a great team try by Ryan Matyas five minutes from time secured the bonus point that took them to the top of the standings after two rounds.
The Americas Rugby Championship 2018 continues on Saturday when USA host their third successive home match, this time against Chile at the Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Argentina XV travel to Punta del Este to tackle Uruguay and Canada host Brazil in Langford, Victoria.
Photo credit: Rogelio Espinos / UAR
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