Argentina take big Coogee Oval win in historic Randwick clash

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma left Coogee Oval on Saturday with a nice dose of nostalgia and a sense of satisfaction after a 74-0 win over Randwick.

The Argentinians were held scoreless for the first 18  minutes of the match before piling on 12 tries in the next 60 to seal a comfortable win.

Ledesma admitted his side were surprised by the early pressure from Randwick, whose defence held up despite the Pumas having almost all the territory and possession.

"Especially that first 20 minutes, the guys didn't expect that and they really gave it to us and pushed us to push ourselves," he said.

"It was good and I'm happy that everybody over here in Randwick (was able to be a part of it).

"I think it's given back a little bit of what they gave me when I first came here and they welcomed me with open arms."

Overall, though, the former Wallabies scrum coach said he was pleased his side went through unscathed.

"Glad to have no injuries," he said.

"That's the main one and giving the opportunity to everybody.

"All our players played today except the captain that we were pretty happy that he didn't play."

Replacement winger Bautista Delguy scored four tries in the last half an hour to make a big impact on the match and their forwards showed their dominance even in the absence of captain Pablo Matera.

Ledesma said there were some players who gave him food for thought two weeks out from their first World Cup game, against France, but was keeping his cards close to his chest about who those were.

"I'm not going to tell you but there's certainly a couple - we were expecting a reaction and we got it today,' he said.

While the result will look lopsided on paper, there was plenty of pride to be found in the Randwick sheds and a definite appreciation of the historic chance they had to play a Test team.

Randwick coach Hadley Jackson spoke with all of that pride when asked about his team's efforts in the match.

"Obviously we would've liked to have gotten a bit closer but I couldn't have been prouder of our team and our effort, especially the first 20 minutes of the first half and again in the second half, we really showed what we're about and couldn't be prouder of them altogether," he said.

The clash was played in front of a packed-out Coogee Oval and, not entirely unlike the famous 1988 Randwick-All Blacks match, balconies of the surrounding apartment buildings were stacked with spectators too.

That 1988 game was a feature of conversation all week and the team from that day presented the Randwick jerseys on the eve of this match too.

It was a slice of history that Randwick and Waratahs backrower Ned Hanigan said was embraced by everyone in the club.

"It was just incredible," he said.

There were plenty of keen spectators at Coogee Oval on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images"The build-up, the tuesday training, it was a fair bit of fun, Thursday, the build up this morning was unreal - we had a  captain's run here on Friday.

"It was pretty special last night, we had the '88 side who played the ABs here, they presented the jerseys and wished us all the best.

"That's what it was all about, you know? We're obviously extremely fortunate that Argentina have come to play us - the whole week leading into it was just incredible and it's something this group of blokes will remember for a long time."

Argentina had plenty of chances to score in the opening exchanges but Randwick's gritty defence and some basic handling errors prevented them from getting off the mark, despite their huge share of possession and territory.

The Pumas turned to their scrum when penalty chances arose and it quickly began paying dividends as the first half ticked on.

It took Argentina until the 18th minute to break the deadlock with Tomas Cubelli scoring in the first phase off a scrum.

They were over again three minutes later through hooker Julian Montoya as their power looked to be getting the better of Randwick and when Juan Manuel Leguizamon had their third in the 32nd minute, the Pumas began to pull away.

Randwick had a promising attacking charge in the 36th minute but a misjudged pass out the momentum back in Argentinian hands.

The Pumas took their chance almost immediately with their fourth try leas than a minute later, through flanker Marcos Kremer.

Argentina finished the half with a fifth to Santiago Carreras, starting from an intercept, and it took them just five minutes in the second to add to their tally, though prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Delguy had four in the space of 20 minutes to blow the margin open, despite the best efforts of a diligent Randwick defensive line.

There were positives for the Wicks - young fullback Will Harrison, who played 10 for the Junior Wallabies this season, was dangerous in attack when given the opportunity while young backrower Kyle Harris also showed some positive signs.

Andrew Walker was injected into the game in the final 10 minutes with the Wicks trailing by 62 and was clearly a fan favourite but he had little impact on the match.

The Pumas made the most of a Randwick slip up close to the line with veteran rake Agustin Creevy scoring the 11th for Argentina.

Winger Ramiro Moyano used all his to score yet another Pumas try with just over two minutes remaining, and the referees called the match after that, ending an historic day.

Hanigan was one of three players in the Randwick side to have played international rugby - along with Adam Freier and Andrew Walker - and said while the pace was a little slower, the Pumas certainly brought the intensity.

"I think it showed what it's like to play Test footballers - they're a great outfit, I honestly hope they do really well at the World Cup," he said.

"I think they're a good bunch of blokes, Mario coached me before and I get along with him and I think they're very capable of doing special things at this World Cup and just want to wish them all the best.

"For our blokes, they're playing a Test side and I think there's a few guys there that might not ever get to do that again and they're the moments you cherish so I'm just really happy to be involved with it."

While it wasn't as close as its 1988 counterpart, Jackson expects it won't soon be forgotten.

"The whole week has been really special, something the boys are never going to forget and myself will never forget," he said.

"To see Coogee oval, Coogee Oval's a special place and hopefully we can have more events where here's crowds like this because it's a good outcome for everyone."


Randwick 0

Argentina 74

Tries: Delguy 4, Cubelli, Montoya, Leguizamon, Kremer, Carreras, Chaparro, Creevy, Moyano

Cons: Urdapilleta 4, Sanchez 3