World Cup - Pumas overpower Romania
Argentina roared back into the World Cup mix with a superb six-try, 43-8 destruction of Romania in a one-sided Pool B clash, setting up a mouth-watering meeting with Scotland for a probable quarter-final berth.
The Pumas were edged out in their forward-dominated battle against England while Romania's pack earned widespread praise for pushing Scotland in their opening game losses, but the expected arm-wrestle failed to materialise as the 2007 third-placed side showed they had a lot more to their game than grunt.
Despite the absence of inspirational fly-half Felipe Contepomi their backline was slick from the off, with full-back Gonzalez Amorosino regularly scything through some admittedly shaky defending on a crisp spring day perfect for running rugby.
Tries for Santiago Fernandez, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Figallo and Amorosino settled the issue within 30 minutes, while second-half scores for Juan Jose Imhoff and Genaro Fessia put the gloss on an eighth Argentine win between the sides in as many meetings.
Argentina can now prepare for next Sunday's Wellington game against Scotland, who have won their first two contests.
The winners are likely to finish runners-up behind England and advance to a quarter-final meeting with the top team in Pool A, expected to be hosts New Zealand, unless they slip up against France next week.
The only negative for the Pumas was another poor kicking display by Martin Rodriguez, who followed up missing five of seven penalties against England by missing two of his three attempts on Saturday.
"We were desperate to get a win, that was the only option for us," Pumas skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said.
"The idea was to have a win and get a bit of confidence, and we got a lot of confidence from that match."
Argentina signalled their intention to run the ball from the opening whistle and had their first try on the board after five minutes when Fernandez, playing at fly-half in place of Contepomi, finished off a sweeping move.
Their second, four minutes later, was from the more industrial school as flanker Leguizamon backed himself to smash through the last line of defence offered by scrum-half Florin Surugiu to barrel over.
Prop Figallo broke away from a ruck for the third and the bonus point was in the bag after half an hour when Amorosino galloped through some ineffective tackles for the fourth.
Romania were struggling to get any kind of foothold in the game but did eventually string some passes together and send winger Ionel Cazan over in the corner as they reached halftime 26-8 down.
The Europeans defended with more determination in the second half, almost all of which was played in their territory.
They had prop Mihaita Alexandru Lazar yellow carded and during his absence were finally breached when replacement back Imhoff scuttled under the posts after 64 minutes.
Replacement flanker Fessia, a late addition to the World Cup squad, scored an impressive sixth eight minutes from time when Argentina turned the ball over almost on their own tryline from a rare Romanian break and went the length of the field.
"It was a little bit patchy, but we are happy," Lobbe added.
"Sometimes we got away from our game plan and tried to throw the ball around without doing the basics very well and it got a little bit messy. When we got back to our system, it was a good, good performance."
After his side missed 28 tackles, Romania captain Marius Tincu said: "It was very hard today.
"It's hard when you play a big team every week. Today we see a big team, Argentina, and congratulations to them."
5' Fernandez try: ARG 5-0
6' Rodriguez conversion: ARG 7-0
9' Leguizamon try: ARG 12-0
11' Rodriguez conversion: ARG 14-0
13' Dimofte penalty: ARG 14-3
21' Figallo try: ARG 19-3
30' Amorosino try: ARG 24-3
31' Rodriguez conversion: ARG 26-3
32' Cazan try: ARG 26-8
44' Rodriguez penalty: ARG 29-8
64' Imhoff try: ARG 34-8
65' Rodriguez conversion: ARG 36-8
72' Fessia try: ARG 41-8
73' Rodriguez conversion: ARG 43-8