Wallabies get out of jail
Wallabies get out of jailSHARE
Australia scored back-to-back Rugby Championship wins with a fortuitous 23-19 victory over Argentina on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The win sees the Wallabies move past South Africa into second place on the competition standings.
The Pumas certainly belong. They have played all three of the other Rugby Championship countries and they are certainly good enough. Originally people said it would take time but in fact it has happened in no time. They drew with South Africa, shook New Zealand and could well have won in Australia for the first time since 1983. In the end they were beaten by conversions.
Their energy may have waned just a little in the last 20 minutes but there is no doubting their commitment – not the way they tackle and get stuck in at the breakdown. And their play is no longer the constipated mauling of yore. They are as good as anybody else at playing positive rugby.
There must be some spirit in Australia that transcends all the gripes about their coach,. Ten points down against South Africa, they won; 13 points down against Argentina, they won. Today not everything was hunky-dory. Their handling was often woeful, they had a man in the sin bin, they had two penalties bounce back off the upright, they suffered a charge-down try and then an unnoticed toe on the line for the other try, but they got above all that to do what the game requires – score more points than the opposition.
Argentina kicked off and scored first when Nathan Sharpe, captain on this beautiful night in the part of the world that he calls home, went offside. Juan Martín Hernández goaled. 3-0 after 2 minutes.
The next period of play held several Wallaby mishaps.
Berrick Barnes, so accurate up to now in the Championship, hit an upright with a straightforward kick.
The Wallabies attacked, but Gonzalo Camacho ripped the ball out of Digby Ioane's hand and raced down the field. Pat McCabe caught him from behind but in the ensuring tackle/ruck McCabe played scrumhalf Martín Landajo without the ball and was sent to the sin bin.
Barnes hit an upright with a straightforward kick.
Adam Ashley-Cooper broke sharply on the left to set up a promising Wallabies attack. They went wide right and Radike Samo had an overlap. The tall man strode towards the corner as Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Horacio Agulla covered in desperation. The two Pumas made some contact and as Samo dived to ground the ball he lost it forward, as the TMO noticed.
Those are four serious disappointments but the Wallabies got going and when Leguizamón was penalised at a tackle Barnes was at last successful. 3-3 after 25 minutes.
The Wallabies were attacking when Rodrigo Roncero won a turnover and Hernández kicked downfield towards the Wallabies line. Quade Cooper fell back in casual fashion and played the ball but ran on without it. Falling back and under pressure Ioane grabbed the ball and was penalised for being offside. 6-3 after 28 minutes.
That is how the scoring stayed for the half but it nearly was different when Sharpe came on a smart pass from Cooper and sped to the line. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino tackled Sharpe and Camacho was there to cling to him and keep the ball up off the ground.
It was the second time in the half when the Wallabies could have scored.
Leguizamón was offside early in the second half and, after 48 minutes, Barnes made it 6-all, heralding the Pumas' purple patch.
From the kick-off the ball was passed back to Cooper who kicked into charging Tomas Leonardi, who had just come onto the field for injured Leguizamón. The ball flew up into the air in kind and gentle fashion for Leonardi to grab in and fall down for the try. 11-6 after 49 minutes.
The Wallabies kicked off, the Pumas kicked back and Barnes kicked high. Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe caught the ball and gave it to Hernández. With effortless ease as usual, the tall flyhalf strode down the field. He passed to replacement Juan Imhoff on his right and the tall wing swerved round Nick Phipps. Under pressure right at the touchline – and possibly with a toe on it – he passed inside to Julio Farias Cabello who powered over with a Wallaby on his back. 16-6 after 51 minutes when Hernández again missed the conversion.
Two tries in two minutes.
From a deep throw into a line-out the Pumas attacked again with a sharp run by Agulla into the 22, but this time there was no try – just a penalty goal when Michael Hooper was penalised at a tackle/ruck. 19-6 after 56 minutes.
The Pumas were rampant. Or so it seemed and it was now the Wallabies' turn to cash in. They attacked and McCabe came speeding in with power off a short pass to bounce off Agulla and surge over the line. Barnes converted. 19-13 after 60 minutes.
The game now belonged to the Wallabies though the Pumas still tackled with determination.
Phibbs broke strongly on the blindside of a tackle/ruck, shucking off a would-be tackler and sending Ioane racing for the line, swerving inside Amorosino to score. Again Barnes converted. 20-19 with 12 minutes to play.
The Pumas had a good chance in those 12 minutes when a penalty gave them an attacking line-out but Agustin Creevy's throw-in was skew. A scrum followed at which they were penalised. A line-out followed which the Wallabies mauled and at which the Pumas were penalised. Kurtley Beale goaled the long, angled kick.
The Pumas attacked from the kick-off but, the siren gone, they lost possession at a maul and the final whistle left them disappointed again.
Man of the Match: Adam Ashley-Cooper is our choice with his strong running and urgent defence.
Moment of the Match: Julio Farias Cabello's try from a long way out, for its own brilliance and for the delight it gave the Pumas
Villain of the Match: No-one at all.
Tries: McCabe, Ioane
Cons: Barnes 2
Pens: Barnes 2, Beale
Tries: Leonardi, Cabello
Pens: Hernandez 3
Yellow card: Pat McCabe (Argentina, 12 – professional foul, playing the scrumhalf)
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Anthony Fainga'a, 22 Kurtley Beale.
Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Toms Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)