Wallabies finish strong to beat Pumas

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies have broken through for their first 2017 Rugby Championship win,with a five-try second half helping them to a 45-20 victory over Argentina.

It was far from a convincing performance, but their improvement came on the scoreboard, a much-needed turnaround after two agonising near-misses.

Again they found themselves up late in the piece, overcoming a 13-10 half-time deficit,  but instead of letting the Pumas back into the contest, they added two late tries and sealed the game.

Bernard Foley had the first points with a sixth-minute penalty, giving the Wallabies some reward and though they had the better of the possession in the early stages but shot themselves in the foot with fumbles, as they looked to play on the edge of safety.

Argentina put the Wallabies under pressure with new winger Matias Moroni easily evading a Bernard Foley tackle attempt deep in the Pumas’ attacking territory before Will Genia cleaned the winger up.

Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez evened things up in the 15th minute, with a penalty shot of his own in an arm wrestle.

Where they relied on scoring to pile the heat on the Pumas last year, it was all defence for the Wallabies as the opening half ticked on, with an Argentina score looking inevitable as they notched up 76 per cent territory in the first 40.

A Pumas pick-and-go ultimately broke through, with halfback Martin Landajo scoring after the TMO cleared captain Agustin Creevy of obstruction.

The Wallabies made the most of their first genuine attacking chance, with Israel Folau finishing off an impressive attacking chain, that began with a Kurtley Beale break.

Basic errors, though continued to plague the Wallabies, with Foley putting a regulation kick out on the full deep in Australia’s defensive zone, while Australia was slow to make an impact at the breakdown.

Australia’s sluggishness had coach Michael Cheika frustrated after half-time, speaking to FOX  SPORTS.

"There’s no urgency, I’m not sure we realise we’re playing in a Test match.”

Israel Folau worked hard and found some reward. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyNo. 8 Sean McMahon again showed his impact, making 17 tackles and also showing his impact in attack, while skipper Michael Hooper was not far behind.

Tighthead Sekope Kepu put the Wallabies in front for the first time and a second Folau try just four minutes later opened up their biggest lead of the game.

Australia began to gain control after that, taking back the territory statistics and turning the spotlight on the Pumas in defence.

Replacement Argentina prop Enrique Pieretto was yellow-carded in the 71st minute, giving Australia a one-man advantage and Genia made the most of an opportunity a minute later, picking the ball off the back of a scrum and securing the result.

Genia’s replacement, Nick Phipps, found the line almost instantly after coming on, finishing a superb McMahon run, before Moroni replied to narrow the final gap.

Rookie hooker Jordan Uelese had the final say, with a score after full-time.


Wallabies 45

Tries: Folau 2, Kepu, Genia, Phipps, Uelese

Cons: Foley 6

Pens: Foley 

Argentina 20

Tries: Landajo, Moroni

Cons: Sanchez 2

Pens: Sanchez 2

Yellow card: Enrique Pieretto