Impact from the bench today in Florence saw Argentina defeating Italy. The South Americans overturned a halftime deficit to win 31-15, doing so by three tries to none.
The victory was just the second of the year for Argentina. It ended a seven match losing streak and brings the overall record for 2017 up to 2-9. One further match remains as Los Pumas travel to Dublin to face Ireland next weekend.
Argentina will travel to Ireland in high spirits. Leading the smiles is perhaps going to be Nicolás Sánchez who, today, moved above Hugo Porta to be the second highest point scorer in Pumas history. He scored 13 points, doing so through three penalties and two conversions.
Los Pumas opened the scoring through an 11th minute penalty. Yet kicking to goal was not Sánchez but Juan Martín Hernández. The 35-year-old was a temporary replacement and landed his attempt.
Italy hit-back straight-away was Carlo Canna landed the first of four penalties of the match. His second kick came in the 20th minute and with it the Europeans held the lead for the first time.
Until the final quarter the lead would continue to change hands. Getting it back for Argentina in the 27th minute was Sebastián Cancelliere. In his first test match start the Hindú Club flier brushed-off three attempted tackles to score from an unlikely position. Sánchez appeared to add the extras but the officials did not raise their flags. Referee Jaco Peyper did not ask for the TMO to confirm.
With seven minutes remaining in the opening half Canna added another penalty. It would be the final points of the first half. It saw the Azzurri take with them a 9-8 lead into the changing rooms.
The second half scoring started with Sánchez putting Argentina back ahead. It was short lived as Canna responded swiftly. Sánchez added another before Italy again led, this time thanks to quick thinking from scrum-half Marcello Violi. His drop-goal restored Italy’s advantage.
With the game heading toward the final quarter it was there fore both sides to win. The difference for Argentina was the impact of the bench. His score followed the injection of players from the bench. Replacement forwards Lucas Noguera Paz, Guido Petti, Benjamín Macome and Julián Montoya all performed very well.
Behind the pack the injection of Gonzalo Bertranou proved to be vital. The replacement scrum-half added Argentina’s speed, ability to get over the gain line and precision. Marshaling from Bertranou combined with the replacement forwards momentum were instrumental in Los Pumas scoring twice.
Flanker Marcos Kremer crossed first. His score was converted by Sánchez from near the sideline. It gave Los Pumas a nine point lead. Joaquin Tuculet then put the result beyond doubt. In his 50th test match the fullback scored down the right wing side, finishing off superb work from the pack and replacement center Matías Moroni.
Penalty: Canna (4)
Try: Cancelliere, Kremer, Tuculet
Conversion: Sánchez (2)
Penalty: Hernández, Sánchez (3)
1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Luca Bigi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Dean Budd, 6 Francesco Minto, 7 Braam Steyn, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt.), 9 Marcello Violi, 10 Carlo Canna, 11 Mattia Bellini, 12 Tommaso Castello, 13 Tommaso Boni, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 15 Jayden Hayward
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Giovanni Licara, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Matteo Minozzi
1 Santiago García Botta, 2 Agustín Creevy (capt.), 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4 Matías Alemanno, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 9 Martín Landajo, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 13 Matías Orlando, 14 Sebastián Cancelliere, 15 Joaquín Tuculet
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Benjamín Macome, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni