Argentina fought off a valiant effort from Georgia to secure their first win of the Rugby World Cup with a 54-9 victory at Kingsholm. Following a tight first half that saw Tomas Lavanni cross for the Pumas, a yellow card for influential Georgian lock Mamuka Gorgodze opened up the game and helped Daniel Hourcade's side claim a comfortable victory.
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. Martin Landajo sneaked through before Cordero and Imhoff both added to their tally in the perfect repost following defeat to world champions New Zealand in their opening game.
Georgia showed brief glimpses of pressure and were only 14-9 down at the break but once they were reduced to 14 men, their hopes of causing an upset were extinguished. Milton Haig's side face the All Blacks next up as they continue to pursue an elusive third-place finish in the pool, which would guarantee them qualification for the 2019 World Cup, while Argentina can put one foot in the last eight if they can overcome Tonga.
Having produced a respectable performance in defeat to the Kiwis in their opening fixture, the Pumas' campaign to reach the quarter-finals effectively started against a Georgia side who were seeking to claim back-to-back pool stage wins for the first time ever at the Rugby World Cup. Haig's side had shocked outsiders Tonga on the first weekend and his team's campaign for a relegation and promotion system in the Six Nations would gain further momentum if they produced another encouraging performance.
Georgians battled to stay in it
Despite Nicholas Sanchez's drop goal and Lavanini going over for the first try inside 10 minutes, the Georgians held their own in the opening stages and an exchange of penalties, with Merab Kvirikashvili unerring from the floor, ensured Argentina only led by five points at the interval. The minnows' pack, led by the gargantuan Gorgodze, was even out muscling the Argentina forwards, who are regarded as among the most daunting in the world.
Such a deficit gave Georgia hope they could stage a second surprise result in as many games, however a spate of tries at the start of the second half turned the contest the way of the 2007 semi-finalists. A yellow card for Gorgodze deflated Georgia and it led to Cubelli going in on the blind side of a scrum to score.
Down to 14 men, Georgia's defence continued to show gaping holes and Imhoff stormed through, before Cordero secured a bonus point as Argentina hammered home their numerical advantage. Even when Gorgodze was restored, the tries continued to flow as Argentina went beyond the 50-point mark with further scores from Landajo, Cordero and Imhoff to complete the emphatic victory.