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Los Pumas player ratings vs South Africa | Rugby World Cup warm-up

By Frankie Deges
Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini and Francisco Gomez Kodela of Argentina sing the national anthem prior The Rugby Championship match between Argentina and South Africa at Jose Amalfitani Stadium on August 5, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

As farewells go, the 24-13 loss against the South African Springboks wasn’t something that got the fans cheering strong. The game wasn’t one to get the juices flowing as both sides did not show much in Buenos Aires.


Puma coach Michael Cheika will officially name his 33-player Rugby World Cup squad on Monday and a couple of players that needed big games will have a sleepless night until they are told on Sunday about their fate.

The return of lock Guido Petti, who hadn’t played in all of 2023 is welcomed news for a pack of forwards that was not imposing in the two games against the Springboks.

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Here’s how Argentina rated against South Africa:

1. Thomas Gallo – 5/10

The scrum was probably more stable than a week ago in Ellis Park but wasn’t a great attacking weapon for Los Pumas. In a game of little open play, he wasn’t his effective self.

2. Julián Montoya – 6

When he left the field to be replaced in the 70th minute by Argentina’s first centurion, Agustín Creevy, two of the world’s best hookers shared a quick handshake. It wasn’t a cracker of a game from the Puma captain, but he is always solid and ensures his team follows him.


3. Francisco Gómez Kodela – 5

As with Gallo, the scrum wasn’t the force it needed to be and at 37, he doesn’t offer much else in the open.

4. Pedro Rubiolo – 5.5

Played 33 intense minutes, active in defense and pushing forward. Had little opportunities with the ball in hand before leaving the field with an injury. Depending on the extent of it, he has done enough to be in the World Cup squad.

5. Tomás Lavanini – 6

Always a danger man in the lineout, winning his ball and pressurizing the opposition throw-in. Little opportunities with the ball in hand, he is a menace at the breakdown.


6. Pablo Matera – 5.5

Not yet at the level everybody knows he can play at, he runs hot and cold in equal measure during the game. When he is hot, he carries with intent and can be destructive in defense. He needs to do this more times during a game. He will be back. He is that good.

7. Santiago Grondona – 6

As usual, workmanlike performance. Never too flashy but always ensuring his presence is felt in tight quarters.

8. Juan Martín González – 7

Another game to confirm that the 22-year old is currently the best Puma forward and his future is limitless. He played an hour as number eight where he is still learning the tricks of the trade and the last 20 minutes as flanker. He doesn’t necessarily shine but seldom does something wrong. He mixed it with the bigger Springboks forwards.

9. Gonzalo Bertranou – 6

A scrumhalf who seldom attacks the base, scored the game’s first try when he tapped a penalty close to the tryline, with the Boks unable to stop him. He has a quick pass and always tries his best but needs another dimension to be of risk to the opposition.

10. Santiago Carreras – 5.5

Another accomplished display by a very good player that doesn’t fully fit the number 10 role. His kicking is always effective and his positioning on Saturday showed that he needs to be on the field.

11. Santiago Cordero – 5

Failed to defend his channel in the Springboks’ opening try and in general offered little throughout in his 50th cap. He needed a big game to force the selectors to pick him to be on the plane to France. Faces a few anxious hours as his fate is being decided; if he goes, it won’t be on the back of this game.

12. Santiago Chocobares – n/a

His 13th cap paid tribute to the unlucky number. Lasted only one minute as he was concussed attempting a tackle.

13. Lucio Cinti – 6.5

He has made the number 13 jersey his in only three tests. He is strong and effective although some unforced mistakes at times confirm he is only 22 and learning. In a game with little attacking opportunities, he did carry the ball with strength.

14. Emiliano Boffelli – 6

Eight points from the boot for a player sorely missed a week ago. He defended his channel well and offered security under the high ball but it wasn’t a game for the backs to shine.

15. Martín Bogado – 5

Great try-preventing tackle in the 15th minute but totally misread a crosskick in the 44th minute that lead to Canan Moodie’s try. For a test debut so close to RWC selection, he showed little nerves, but is not yet the finished product. Hard to see him on the plane to Europe in a few days.


16. Agustín Creevy – n/a – In a losing game, his came appearance was sufficient to allow him to deservedly become Argentina’s first test centurion. There wasn’t much for him to offer.

17. Joel Sclavi – n/a – With a scrum that was well controlled during all the game, his presence did not change the course of the game. Gave away. An unnecessary penalty but otherwise tried to be involved.

18. Eduardo Bello – n/a – As with Sclavi, there isn’t much you can do when the fate of a game is sealed and neither team is trying to play much rugby. Fifteen minutes can be a lot of time or no time at all. This was the case for the two props as nothing really happened whilst they were on the field.

19. Guido Petti – 7 – His 50 minutes on the field were his first minutes of rugby in 2023, right in time before RWC selection. He confirmed why he was missed so much in the previous internationals. He won his lineout ball, he pushed hard and tackled like if he had not been out of a rugby field for eight long months. He will start against England in a month’s time.

20. Facundo Isa – 5.5 – Thirty minutes to decide his RWC fate. He took the ball in the first move and made sure he was noticeable during the game. A few mistakes creeped into his game because of his willingness to be involved. He runs good defensive lines and is strong in attack, if clumsy at times, like throwing a 50-50 pass after running a wrong line.

21. Lautaro Bazán Vélez (6 caps) – n/a – He had 10 minutes for a cameo role that wasn’t sufficient time to make any mistakes but showcase his talent. Those last few minutes in the Buenos Aires cold were a torment for fans. And not because of the former sevens stars.

22. Tomás Albornoz – 5 – It is clear that Michael Cheika prefers him to the more experienced Nicolás Sánchez, although he has never been give more than 20 minutes to showcase his true talent. A doubtful forward pass had put him in the clear which would have give him a grand presence. He has a big boot and distributes well but had few opportunities to do both.

23. Matias Moroni – 7 – Seventy-nine minutes, after coming on for concussed Chocobares one minute into the game and he was one of the best Pumas on the day. His experience came through and had a good game, defending strongly and trying to create holes in a well-organized Springbok defence. His effectiveness had more to do with the strength of the opposition.


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1 Comment
Another 314 days ago

To be honest, I thought Argentina really underperformed in this match. They had a slight advantage in the first half, but couldn’t convert it to points, then faded badly in the face of some concerted and aggressive tackling by the Springboks. Only one team in it after half time.

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