The US Eagles suffered their first defeat in the Americas Rugby Championship since 2017, losing 45-14 against Argentina XV in the heat of Patagonian city of Cipoletti.
The second round of the Americas Rugby Championship, which opened on Friday with Uruguay beating Chile 20-5, finished in Sao José dos Campos with Brazil upsetting RWC 2019 qualifiers Canada 18-9.
Now, for the first time in the four-year history of the ARC, there will be a bye weekend in the interests of player welfare. Argentina XV go into the break on top of the table with 10 points, three points clear of Uruguay, who have also won both of their opening games but without a bonus point.
Big Argentine win
For the first time in the history of the ARC, Argentina XV opted to start a second consecutive game with the same starting XV, and the decision paid dividends as the inaugural winners of the competition in 2016 tore straight into the two-time defending champions.
From the start, there was almost total control from the home side who took the lead within the first minute when Julián Domínguez weaved his way past four would-be defenders down the left flank and offloaded to full-back Santiago Carreras for a simple run in.
Argentina XV doubled their lead to 14-0 in the seventh minute when prop Lucas Favré crashed over from a well-executed lineout move. Front-row colleague, hooker Gaspar Baldunciel, joined him on the scoresheet as the future Pumas underlined their superiority.
If things were tough then for the USA, their task promised to get even harder on the half-hour mark when powerfully-built centre, Paul Lasike, got his marching orders for foul play.
Despite the player advantage, Argentina had to wait until after the break before bagging the bonus point, Carreras capping an impressive display with his second before Domínguez deservedly got in on the act with his side's fifth try.
Both sides lost a man to the sin-bin, John Quill for the Eagles and Lucas Mensa for the home side, before Dominguez reverted to his role as try creator for the next score, Felipe Ezcurra the beneficiary on this occasion as Argentina XV opened up a 40-0 lead.
Having been held up over the line in the first half, captain Lautaro Bávaro added another in the final quarter before the match became 14 v 14 when Argentina XV lost second-row Jerónimo Ureta to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on.
Moments earlier, USA had opened their account for the evening with a penalty try and they grabbed a further consolation through replacement hooker Dylan Fawsitt three minutes from time, Wil Magie converting for a final scoreline of 45-14.
Brazil upset Canada
Unlike in 2017, Brazil did not need a last-gasp conversion to beat Canada for the second time in their history; this was more comfortable.
Canada raced into a 10-0 lead and looked set to banish the painful memories of their 24-23 defeat in Sao Paulo two years ago, but a listless second-half performance – and the punishing boot of Josh Reeves, who kicked all his side's points through six penalties – saw them on the wrong end of a shock result.
In a match where two players dominated the scoring, Ciaran Hearn struck first with a third-minute penalty. Hearn, who shifted to full-back from centre after the late withdrawal of Theo Saunder, then burst through the Brazilian defence to score from 35 metres, his conversion taking the Canucks into double figures with only eight minutes gone.
However, with Brazil's scrum exerting its dominance on the game, the home side started to claw their way back into the contest and three Reeves penalties made it a one-point game at the break.
The second half continued in much the same pattern, and unfortunately for Canada, they seemed powerless to turn things around. "Credit to Brazil, they did a job on us," reflected head coach Kingsley Jones after the game.
New Zealand-born fly-half Reeves slotted three more penalties between the 43rd and 54th minutes as Os Tupis' pragmatic and power-based game paid dividends.
Uruguay see off improved Chile
The round opened in Montevideo, where Chile put in a much-improved defensive display to frustrate Uruguay for long periods of play. Los Teros could only manage two tries against a side that had shipped eight the week before and never looked entirely comfortable.
Los Condores started the game brightly and would have been in front if fly half Francisco González had not missed with a penalty and drop goal attempt. Having spurned those opportunities, Chile then found themselves 10-0 down after 26 minutes, Andrés Vilaseca kicking a penalty before adding the extras to Joaquin Prada's try. There was an element of fortune to the score as a through kick from Juan Manuel Cat bounced kindly off the body of a Chilean defender for Prada to gather and score.
With no further addition to the scoreline, Chile turned around 10 points in arrears. However, the deficit increased by a further three shortly after the restart when Vilaseca kicked his second penalty.
Chile needed a response and it came through replacement hooker Augusto Bohme who peeled away off the back of a rolling maul to sprint clear down the unattended blindside from just outside the Uruguayan 22. Joyous celebrations followed.
That was as good as it got though for Chile. On the hour mark, Uruguay reverted to the powerful rolling maul that served them so well the week before against Canada, Los Teros scored what turned out to be the final try of the game. As the mass of bodies edged ever closer to the Chilean line, Diego Magno used every inch of his huge frame to reach over and score.
Chile did not give in, even though yellow cards to winger Julio Blanco and centre José Ignacio Larenas meant they played much of the final quarter a man down, and they can take great heart from their performance when the ARC resumes in a fortnight's time.
Los Teros captain Juan Manuel Gaminara admitted it had been a struggle. "We could not play our game because of the way Chile performed. Our set pieces gave us the win," he said.
Photo: Andrea Romero
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