Argentina shook off first-half nerves and played the attacking rugby they enjoy to overwhelm Georgia 54-9 in their Pool C match on Friday, coach Daniel Hourcade and captain Agustin Creevy said.
With two remaining pool games against Tonga and minnows Namibia on October 4 and 11, both in Leicester, Argentina will be out-and-out favourites to progress alongside the All Blacks into the last eight.
Argentina’s task was made easier by the sin binning of Georgia skipper Mamuka Gorgodze within moments of the re-start, but Argentina exhibited a ruthless streak to score three tries within six minutes of that yellow card to effectively end the game as a contest.
Tomas Cubelli, Juan Imhoff and Santiago Cordero went over in the 10-minute spell Gorgodze was off the field to secure a bonus point but the punishment would continue even without the numerical advantage.
With Georgia flagging, Martin Landajo first scored, and then Cordero and Bosch grabbed their second tries, Marcelo Bosch hitting two conversions as Argentina racked up 40 unanswered points.
Argentina have also been making inroads in the expanded Rugby Championship between World Cups, which as Haig pointed out has given the Pumas massive gains over the past three years.
“I think that’s how we’ll look to play, we’ll just go out and play our game with no pressure on us”.
“He’s our leader, we’d miss him at any stage”, the New Zealander said.
The Pumas nearly immediately restored their five-point lead after flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili was called by referee JP Doyle for a high tackle.
Meanwhile full-back Merab Kvirikashvili is in line to continue his record of playing in every World Cup match for Georgia, with Friday’s fixture set to be his 14th appearance at the tournament.
Georgia had their share of vociferous support too and they really made themselves heard, especially in the first half.
“This team always tries to do what it has done in training and we did that against Georgia”.
From the restart, the ball was whipped left and smart hands saw Racing 92 winger Imhoff in the clear as he outsprinted Kvirikashvili for the line.
England 2015 is the third World Cup in a row that the Lelos have been drawn against Argentina in the pool phase, and they were comfortably defeated by the Pumas in 2007 and 2011.