Pumas beat Italy 30-24 in Santa Fe

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Argentina

Argentina

Argentina beat Italy a sixth straight time when it held on 30-24 in a one-off rugby test on Saturday.

The Pumas trailed only once, briefly in the second half, but had to withstand a strong finish by the first Italian side chosen by new coach Conor O'Shea, who rested regular captain Sergio Parisse.

Both sides scored two tries each, with the difference made by Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who landed seven of his nine goalkicks for 20 points, while Italy counterpart Carlo Canna made all five of his for 14 points.

Sanchez was the star of the show; his grubber kick into the in-goal setting up the first try for winger Manuel Montero.

But after Argentina lock Guido Petti was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle, Italy rebounded in style. Flanker Simone Favaro's break and Michele Campagnaro's offload set up winger Leonardo Sarto's score to trail by just a point.

The Pumas carried a point lead into halftime, but soon after, a break out of his half by winger David Odiete led Canna to kicking Italy into its first lead.

Sanchez hit the post with his next goalkick, but made the next one to regain the lead. A minute later, he split the defense 60 meters out, slipped a third tackle, and winger Matias Moroni finished off. Moments later, Sanchez blew through the Italian defense down the middle again, and chipped ahead. Montero regathered but was stopped a meter out by Canna.

Sanchez's sixth and last penalty kick made it 30-19, but Italy rode a string of penalties to drive Favaro over from a lineout maul and threaten to score again in the last minute. But the lineout ball was trapped in a ruck, and the Pumas barely retained possession to the final whistle to extend their winning run against Italy to eight years.

-AP

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