The Wallabies have secured a victory to be savored by coming from behind and beating Michael Cheika’s Argentina 41-26 in Mendoza.
Despite losing Michael Hooper 24 hours before kick-off due to mental health reasons and Quade Cooper midway through the second half, the Wallabies denied the chances of securing a key, characterful win.
Stream over 50 sports live and on demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Try now 14 days free >
It also ended in the sweetest possible way, with Len Ikitau scoring the Wallabies’ fifth try in the 85th to give the visitors a major bonus point, taking Dave Rennie’s men for the Springboks to first place at The Rugby Championship.
The Wallabies trailed 19-10 at halftime but scored three tries, including a penalty, to claw their way back and silence the strong Argentine crowd. That seemed unlikely in the 55th minute as Juan Martin Gonzalez completed a stunning long-range counterattack.
But the penalty try, yellow card to Matias Alemanno for illegally collapsing a maul, saw referee Mike Adamson deliver the telling blow.
Folau Fainga’a’s attempt in the 69th minute and Reece Hodge’s conversion from outside gave the Wallabies an important eight-point buffer that turned out to be too big.
The win breaks a two-match losing streak and comes at a key moment, with the Wallabies missing out on a lot of experience, none more so than Hooper who pulled out late Thursday (local time) because he felt he was not on the right track.” think”. It saw the skipper leave Argentina accompanied by hooker Dave Porecki, who was ruled out earlier in the week due to a concussion.
In his absence, James Slipper, who captained the Wallabies against Wales last November, was outstanding. The veteran gag played for 72 minutes and his composure and calm mind were crucial in the Wallabies’ victory.
‘Courage’: Wallabies captain leaves tour after revealing ‘mindset’ battle, Reds star called
The Wallabies took advantage of 16-14 penalties in their favour, most of them in the second half when the visitors made the most of the wave of momentum.
The Wallabies’ front pack was talismanic, with their excellent front row and their zealous second row.
But after a flawless, ill-disciplined first half, the Wallabies came back through the beauty of simplicity. Big tests are rarely won without winning the basics of the game, and Dan McKellar’s influence around the set, especially the rolling maul, was crucial.
Fraser McReight had a strong second half, especially to make a memorable debut after being called into the team from outside the match roster following Hooper’s withdrawal on Friday.
McReight scored the Wallabies’ crucial second try – and the first of the second half – when he was thrown over the line by Jed Holloway, who teamed up with Rob Valetini to have a fantastic second half after breaking free from the rolling maul.
Early on, the Wallabies were on the back foot and looking clumsy on the attack. They were not helped by Adamson who refereed hard.
After Pablo Matera’s early try for the Pumas, the Wallabies showed what they were capable of in the 17th minute as Cooper held onto the ball and the opposition defense before Jordan Petaia got some space.
But Cooper’s afternoon, which started with a forced offload that put pressure on the Wallabies, ended in frustration when the 34-year-old was forced off the field early in the second half. He was seen with a moon boat and is in serious doubt for the rest of the rugby championship.
While Reece Hodge enjoyed a fantastic afternoon, scoring goals and playing the link role well, James O’Connor and Noah Lolesio are likely to wear the number 10 jersey next week.
While Lolesio was preferred against England in Cooper’s absence, O’Connor’s experience and leadership in a squad that lacked Hooper could see Rennie pick the Reds playmaker.