Pumas defeat Azzurri
Juan Imhoff's first-half try and 14 points from the boot of Nicolás Sánchez propelled Argentina to a 19-14 win over Italy in Rome.
It was wet and by no means wonderful, but Argentina bounced back following their humiliating defeat to Wales last week.
The Southern Hemisphere side held their nerve in conditions that weren't favourable towards their attacking style of play, while it was evident that last weekend's bruiser against Fiji would have an influence Italy's approach to the close exchanges.They looked almost dysfunctional and uninterested at times.
With a try apiece and the difference at the end turned out to be the accuracy of the respective kickers.
While debutant Tomasso Allan missed three kickable penalties - Allan also converted three - Nicolás Sánchez was successful with the same number of penalty conversions, but also banged-over a brilliant conversion and sealed victory with a perfectly timed drop-goal with only eight minutes remaining in the match.
Defensively, both sides weren't up to scratch, but it was the visitors who found the gap first through winger Imhoff, who scored his team's first points in the 20th minute of the match.
Up to that point Italy enjoyed a 6-0 lead though before Sánchez had to converted Imhoff's try from right on the lefthand touchline despite heavy rain.
Italy scored their five-pointer in the 62nd minute through Michele Campagnaro, and would only threaten again in the closing quarter.
The contest started with a dreadfully boring game cat and mouse as both sides relied heavily on their kickers to turn the opposition. Unfortunately that theme was adopted for most of the match.
This initial reluctance to hold on to possession for more than five phases left very little for the imagination, but perhaps it served as a good indication of just how desperate both sides were to pick themselves up after a rather disappointing June.
The Pumas, in particular, would have been down in the dumps following their 40-6 loss to the Six Nations while Italy were not exactly convincing in their showdown against a below-par Fiji the previous week.
Allan gave his side a 6-0 lead at the start, but Argentina did well to get the upper-hand at scrum time with the battle between former Leister Tigers team-mates Martin Castrogiovanni and Marcos Ayerza providing some form of entertainment in a match will be remembered for a lack of fluidity.
To his credit, Castrogiovanni was instrumental in ripping possession from his southern hemisphere rivals who were also looking a tad on the tired side.
Apart from superb break by wing Juan Imhoff, who failed to convert because he kicked possession away, the Argentinian backs played second fiddle to their forwards who were making solid hits in defence.
Had the Pumas' line-outs functioned better, chances are that they would have been on the scoreboard far earlier when Imhoff finished off their most impressive passage of play.
The Pumas were put on the front-foot by Benjamin Macome - who attracted several defenders after picking up from the base of the scrum.
From there Argentina spread it to Imhoff who nipped past Edoardo Gori to score in the corner.
Itally clawed their way back through Allan who converted but poor discipline started creeping into their game and the visitors were also allowed to increase their score through penalties.
By the final whistle, it was clear that both sides were glad that their international season had come to an end.
Pens: Allan 3
Pens: Sánchez 3
Drop Goal: Sánchez
Yellow Card: Ayerza
Italy 15 Luke McLean, 14 Giovambattista Venditti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Gonzalo Canale, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Valerio Bernabo, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Lucas González Amorosino, 13 Horacio Agulla, 12 Gabriel Ascárate, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Benjamín Macome, 7 Julio Farías Cabello, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón (c), 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Eusebio Guiñazú, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Matías Díaz, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Javier Rojas, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (Ireland), JP Doyle (England)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
by Michael Mentz