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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Juan Martin Gonzalez's late try on debut broke a deadlock for Argentina to beat Romania 24-17 in their test at the refurbished Arcul de Triumf on Saturday.
Romania, back in its home stadium for the first time in four years, recovered from 17-9 down at halftime to tie the score entering the last quarter.
But just when a draw seemed likely, a superb run by fullback Santiago Cordero was finished by 20-year-old replacement back-rower Gonzalez with seven minutes left and converted by Domingo Miotti.
The Pumas' defense then upheld their perfect record against the Oaks, who besieged the Argentina tryline in the last minute.
Argentina expected a rusty performance. There were only nine surviving starters from the last test, a draw with Australia in December, and recalls for prop Facundo Gigena after five years out and center Matias Moroni and lock Tomas Lavanini after two years. They overcame handling errors, poor decisions, and a spirited Oaks effort.
Oaks fullback Ionel Melinte opened the scoring with the first of his four penalties which kept his side in touch.
Argentina scored unconverted tries to No. 8 Rodrigo Bruni and Cordero, and received a penalty try near the end of the half and an extra man when Romania flanker Cristi Chirica was yellow-carded.
But despite three tries against three penalties, the Pumas under new captain Julian Montoya couldn’t press home their power and speed advantage.
Romania, growing in confidence, drew level thanks to a try by hooker Eugen Capatina and Melinte’s boot.
Argentina eventually prevailed in its first appearance in Bucharest since 1992, and moves on to two ‘home’ tests against Wales in Cardiff.
Romania's second summer home test against Scotland next weekend was cancelled after coronavirus infections in the Scottish camp.
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The Associated Press