Wallabies drop first home Test to Argentina in 35 years

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

One step forward, three steps back.

After beating the New Zealand conquering Springboks 100 kilometres down the road seven days ago the Wallabies have fallen to Argentina for the first time in 35 years.

To sum this match up, one must only watch the last play.

As Australia searched for a match winner Israel Folau found himself in a two-on-one but brushed Bernard Foley, tried to score through contact and spilt the ball.

It was sloppy and it cost the Wallabies the win but in truth, Australia did not deserve to win this Test.

The 23-19 loss was a sharp reminder of this side's weaknesses.

After holding South Africa to 18 points last Saturday their defensive work was awful, ball handling clumsy and set piece a constant struggle.Will Genia crossed for the Wallabies' first. Photo: Getty ImagesArgentina weren't exactly sharp but they were willing.

So, so willing.

And that was the difference in this match.

The Wallabies played like it was a match in front of just over 16,000 fans.

The Argentinians played like it was a World Cup final.

While last Saturday's win over the Springboks was a stodgy affair, this was the old cliche.

It was a game of two halves.

The first half was as free flowing as they come and that had plenty to do with some woeful Wallabies defence.

Australia made 36 tackles and missed 21 in the first half alone.

That number ticked over to 23 by full time and many of those were arm grabbing, avoidable misses which will have some players blushing come Monday.Israel Folau scored a cracking try but had a late game blunder. Photo: Getty ImagesAfter cruising for the first 30 minutes the lineout also lacked consistency.

It was a combination of both missed tackles and a lost lineout which handed the Pumas the lead heading into the break, Taniela Tupou and Dane Haylett-Petty both missing what should have been simple tackles as Argentina split the line 70 out and kept the ball alive - Bautista Delguy the eventual try scorer.

While the Wallabies' defence was left wanting their attack looked as crisp as it has all year.

They scored two superb first half tries but the way they earned those 10 points couldn't have been in greater contrast.

Their first - scored by Will Genia in the 10th minute - was a sublime set play which went through the hands of Israel Folau, Haylett-Petty and Hodge in the lead up.

Their second was simple individual brilliance from Folau.

Off the back of a lineout 40 out from Argentina's line Kurtley Beale hit the star winger on the chest and he beat five different defenders en route to an athletic finish in the left hand corner.

Australia led 14-10 at that point but three straight crooked lineouts and three missed tackles later Bautista was in, sending the visitors into the sheds up 17-14.

Alarm bells started to go off when play resumed.

The Wallabies kept missing tackles and lacked urgency on turnover ball.Argentina wanted the win more on the Gold Coast. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Argentinians, in contrast, were playing with the sort of urgency one would want to see in a World Cup final.

Sanchez duly extended the lead to 20-14 in the 48th minute and the Wallabies desperately needed to turn the tide.

Turn the tide they did.

With Folau Faingaa, Adam Coleman, Taniela Tupou and Bernard Foley all called upon off the bench a rolling maul and quality hands from Foley and Hodge put Haylett-Petty in the right corner.

But Foley missed the kick just inside the sideline and when Hodge missed a difficult shot from 54 metres out the Australians were left with a 20-19 deficit with 15 to play.

Awful ball handling then cost the Australians opportunity after opportunity.

And when Amiliano Boffelli stepped up and kicked his second 50 metre plus five pointer with four to play he looked to have sunk the Wallabies in the process.

The situation was dire.

Nick Phipps passed the ball into touch and all Australian hope seemed lost.

But it was Folau who blew the last chance.

The Wallabies will now be 7th in the world when the new world rankings come out Monday.

That's their lowest ranking since 2003.

RESULT

Wallabies 19

Tries: Genia, Folau, Haylett-Petty

Cons: Toomua 2

Pens:

Pumas 23

Tries: Sanchez, Delguy

Cons: Sanchez

Pens: Boffelli 2, Sanchez