Argentina 17-54 Australia, Rugby Championship
Wallabies closer to desired style - Ewen McKenzie
October 6, 2013
Australia's Michael Hooper runs through Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez , Argentina v Australia, Rugby Championship, Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario, October 5, 2013
Michael Hooper displayed great energy for the Wallabies in Rosario © Getty Images

Ewen McKenzie has described the Wallabies' performance against Argentina in The Rugby Championship-concluding Test in Rosario as closer to the style of play he wants to see from his team, but he lamented "we still missed opportunities and made errors".

"We're getting better," McKenzie told Rugby Gold after watching Australia defeat the Pumas 54-17, scoring seven tries including a hat-trick from Israel Folau.

"You saw a lot of the spirit of how we'd like to play, there was some adventure there, we mixed the game up and we showed toughness … In terms of pattern of play we're only just scratching around the edges yet. There's a bunch of things we haven't got to yet because we're still trying to bed a few things down. I felt it was a better effort. In the end you've got to be able run, got to be able to bend the line, break tackles, and we started do all that.''

Match Analysis

  • Man of the Match: How can you go past a man who scores a hat-trick of tries - his first - and looks damaging all night with ball in hand? But we've looked beyond Israel Folau to find Scott Fardy, who was immense. He was menacing and key as the Wallabies forwards gave their backs front-foot ball to enjoy.
  • Key Moment: Seven scrums in eight minutes. Five scrum penalties to the Pumas. One yellow card to the Wallabies. But the Pumas got nothing from their time camped early on Australia's five-metre line. This represented a key psychological blow, and the Wallabies' set-piece thereafter performed much better than had been expected..
  • Hero: Felipe Contepomi. Adios amigo. Class to the very end of his 86th and final Test.
  • Villain: Hard to see villains in this match, even allowing for the yellow cards, and we thought Wayne Barnes was good if not flawless as the referee. So we'll say the lack of Pumas ambition until the game was gone. They won't progress until they look beyond their scrum for attacking weapons.
  • Talking Point: Were the Pumas dudded by Wayne Barnes' unwillingness to give a penalty try as the Wallabies scrum conceded penalty after penalty after penalty in the scrum early on? Certainly, the Pumas' inability to secure points from the dominance at that point dealt a hammer blow to their hopes.
  • Play of the Game: Israel Folau's opening try inside three minutes almost killed the crowd before they got started. But it was more than the try. The Wallabies were flawless in collecting the kick-off, clearing their lines, pressuring the Pumas an executing first-phase play to put Folau away. This was a great statement of intent from a team under pressure

Wallabies captain James Horwill described the victory as a "confidence booster" that had the potential to develop self-belief among the squad. McKenzie said he could feel tension in the dressing room before the game, saying "it's pleasing that they expressed themselves in the face of a fair bit of pressure rather than shrink and say it's all too hard".

Horwill was pleased, in particular, with the efforts of the forwards to stand firm in the scrum early, when they packed down seven times in a row and didn't concede points. "We need to [carry that performance forward]. We're coming up against some world-class scrums. The All Blacks are an excellent scrum and we've got them in two weeks. A big thing for us is not going back from here, it's moving forward. You can't just rest on your laurels and have it be a one-off performance; it needs to be a stepping stone onto bigger and better things."

Folau, meanwhile, said the Wallabies had to show the passion displayed at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito when they play New Zealand in the Dunedin Bledisloe Cup Test on October 19.

"That one in Dunedin is obviously going to be a pretty tough challenge," Folau said. "But we can regroup and turn up and have the same passion, like we did against the Pumas going in against the ABs."

After mixed success pursuing a kicking game through the tournament, the Wallabies looked comfortable playing ball in hand, with Quade Cooper spiralling long and accurate passes. "It's definitely a blueprint," Folau said of what McKenzie had described as a "pared back" game plan. "It's good to get the win but we want to get two in a row," Folau said. "That's going to be our next challenge."

The Wallabies head home from Buenos Aires on Monday, and they will have a one-week break before starting preparations for the third Bledisloe Cup Test.

The Wallabies produced their best form of the year in Rosario

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP

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