McKenzie embraces 'good moments'
Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:14
They are moments that define the team
Australia insisted on looking at the positives after clinging on to snap a four-Test losing streak with a 14-13 victory over Argentina in their Rugby Championship Test at Patersons Stadium on Saturday.
In wet and windy conditions that made slick ball handling difficult, the Wallabies led 14-3 at half-time, but failed to score after the break and were lucky the Pumas were unable to capitalise on some late errors by the home team.
Although the unimpressive win didn't answer too many questions about their form, it was the Wallabies' first victory under new coach Ewen McKenzie in his fourth match at the helm.
Despite the tenuous margin, McKenzie noted that Argentina was an improving side and said it was a character and confidence-building win.
"There were some really good moments of character there, we had to defend our line in the second half from a series of scrums," he said.
"They are the moments that ultimately start to define the team and the character of the people and how they work together.
"Some of it is starting to poke its nose through in terms of improvement."
Captain Ben Mowen echoed McKenzie's sentiment and said it was important just to get a win on the board.
"It just feels great to win," he said.
"The guys close to the team know how much it means, we know the rugby public haven't been happy with the results we have given so far but we are as invested in the team as anyone.
"To get a result like that tonight on the back of some crucial moments through the game, was outstanding.
"It is going to propel the side forward."
Argentina threatened to snatch the match when they scored the only try of the second half.
The Pumas had a final chance to attack in the last minute, but were penalised for not throwing in straight at the line-out.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan lamented his team's tardy first half and inability to score when they spent the first 10 minutes of the second half camped on Australia's tryline.
"We are disappointed with the result," he said.
"We didn't play well in the first half, but it was a good reaction in the second half.
"We did well in the scrum, but we needed to get more benefit."
The Pumas were first on the board, with Nicolas Sanchez slotting a penalty in the eighth minute, before the Wallabies responded with successive penalties through Leali'ifano.
Leali'ifano was again involved in the first try of the match, his creativity ending with the dangerous Israel Folau beating four Pumas to dive over the tryline in the 28th minute.
Another Leali'ifano penalty after the half-time siren meant the Wallabies led 14-3 at the break.
Nic White, from the ACT Brumbies, was impressive for the Wallabies in the first half, particularly with his kicking, and justified his selection ahead of Will Genia.
Desperate for their first win in the Rugby Championship, Argentina's forwards severely tested the defence of the Wallabies in the opening minutes of the second half.
The Wallabies' makeshift scrum was under siege, as was the case in the 38-12 loss to South Africa last weekend, and the penalties started to flow.
However, the Wallabies somehow held firm and finally won a penalty of their own to ease the pressure.
In driving rain in front of a crowd of 18,214, there was little to enthuse about for spectators until the Pumas suddenly produced the best rugby of the night mid-way through the half.
The visitors moved the ball across the ground with purpose and speed and were eventually rewarded when Juan Manuel Leguizamon barged over for A try in the 65th minute.
When Sanchez duly converted, the Wallabies only led 14-13 and the scene was set for a tense final 15 minutes.
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