Rugby Championship

Australia hold off Argentina

2014-09-13 14:06
Rugby Championship (File)

Gold Coast - The Wallabies held on grimly to deny Argentina their first win in the Rugby Championship, scraping home 32-25 on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Australia looked set for a convincing win with a 29-13 lead and 20 minutes left, but the Pumas stormed back with two late tries to have the home side clinging on inside their own quarter.

The Pumas had a scrum metres out from the try-line in the final moments but were penalised for an early engagement to get the Wallabies home for their second win in the four-nation southern hemisphere series.

Yet again Argentina came desperately close to winning their first Test in the Rugby Championship after going down 33-31 to the Springboks in Salta last month.

Argentina have yet to win in 16 Tests over three seasons against southern hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

"Over the whole match Australia deserved to win, they produced some dynamic rugby in the first half forcing us to make over 90 tackles," Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch said.

"In the second half we kept the ball in hand and we produced better rugby and it was close at the end."

The Pumas looked set to draw level with minutes left when replacement scrum-half Tomas Cubelli darted through, but he dummied rather than passed the ball and the try chance went begging.

Cubelli then compounded his error by knocking on at the base of a maul with the Wallaby defence fully stretched.

It was the same story on the Gold Coast two years ago, up 19-9 with 20 minutes to go before losing 23-19, while Argentina failed to convert forward dominance in driving rain last season in Perth, when Australia held on to win 14-13.

"We have to get through those games and we survived it," Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"I thought we did pretty well for the first 55 minutes and then they got back into the game, they controlled it better and they were pretty dangerous there towards the end.

"They put a lot of pressure on us. That's what they do. They did it to South Africa and New Zealand.

"We don't feel like the odd-one-out there. You've got to be able to deal with it, and we did at key moments."

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, playing his first match in six weeks, only lasted until halftime before succumbing to an ankle problem that has him in doubt for the rest of the Rugby Championship.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper scored in the opening two minutes after he was put into the clear by Bernard Foley.

But the Pumas responded with a sensational try by winger Manuel Montero five minutes later.

The long-striding Montero beat off the tackles of Peter Betham, Hooper and Foley in a brilliant 55-metre run to the try-line and Nicolas Sanchez's conversion put the Argentines in front.

The Australian pack was doing well in the scrums and lineouts and the home side enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the opening half.

Foley bombed a certain try when he went to ground with the ball, with winger Rob Horne unmarked outside him and the try-line beckoning.

The Wallabies botched another try-scoring opportunity moments later and relied on Foley to kick them to a 14-7 lead at halftime with three penalties.

The Wallabies seized control of the match minutes after halftime when Hooper scored his second try off sloppy handling by the Pumas.

Israel Folau put through a little kick over the defence and Montero fumbled for Hooper to pounce on it and brush aside Mariano Galarza's tackle to stroll over and give the Australians a 21-7 lead.

The Wallabies extended their lead to 29-13, heading into the final quarter of the match when scrum-half Nick Phipps darted through and his long pass put winger Peter Betham over for his first Test try in the corner.

The dogged Pumas refused to give and two tries got them within four points with nine minutes left.

Centre Bosch crossed wide out with 16 minutes left and fullback Joaquin Tuculet raced through to score off Sanchez's well-weighted grubber kick inside the final 10 minutes.

Foley kicked his fifth penalty with six minutes left to give the Wallabies some valuable breathing space as the Pumas went after the win.


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