Rugby Championship
Wallabies escape to victory over Argentina
Andy Withers
September 13, 2014
Date/Time: Sep 13, 2014, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Australia 32 - 25 Argentina
Attendance: 14281  Half-time: 14 - 7
Tries: Betham, Hooper 2
Cons: Foley
Pens: Foley 5
Tries: Bosch, Montero, Tuculet
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 2
Wallabies' captain Michael Hooper grounds the ball, Australia v Argentina, Rugby Championship, Gold Coast, September 13, 2014
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was quick to put points on the board
© Getty Images
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The Wallabies have escaped with a victory over Argentina at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast, clinging to a seven-point margin despite boasting 75% possession and 80% territory. They led 29-13 with 20 minutes to play, when they looked set to claim a comfortable victory, but the Pumas fought back strongly as they put the ball through hands, strung phases together and finally began to assert in the scrum. In the end, the Wallabies were grateful for a technical free-kick against the Pumas in the final scrummage of the game - for feeding the set-piece too early.

"Every game's tough," Wallabies captain and two-try hero Michael Hooper said. "We got through that one, we'll take the win but again there's a lot we can work on."

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said "you've got to get through those games, and in the end we survived it."

"We did pretty well for 50 minutes, but they got back in the game," McKenzie said. "They started getting a bit of the ball … they got back in and started looking pretty dangerous there towards the end. We lost a bit of shape, so that was disappointing, but we toughed it out."

The game started in the same fashion as last week's Test against South Africa, with Australia scoring an early try - Hooper just touching down after being put into a gap by the first of many wonderful passes from Man of the Match Bernard Foley. They fly-half missed the conversion, and Argentina then took the lead with a counter-attack, Manuel Montero racing 55 metres and beating the tackles of Peter Betham, Hooper and Foley to capitalise on a turnover; it was to be the Pumas' only threat on the Wallabies' line until the final quarter, but Australia failed to capitalise fully on their domination of possession and territory; indeed they lead by seven point at half-time courtesy only of two penalties in the final three minutes of the stanza.

Australia, as they did in the first half, came out firing, and Hooper scored his second try of the game within minutes of the re-start, although this time the try had more to do with a mistake from Montero than any great attacking brilliance. The Wallabies built 19 phases without truly threatening the line, only to spill the ball that Argentina hacked clear; Israel Folau gathered the ball and chipped to no-one, but Montero collected and then fumbled on the deck to gift the opportunity to Hooper, who cantered over the line untouched.

Marcelo Bosch of Argentina attempts to break free from the defence © Getty Images

The sides traded penalty goals before Australia claimed their third try though a wonderful counter-attack from inside their own half. The teams had traded aimless kicks back and forth before Foley fed Nick Phipps, who then made a super break in midfield and linked with Betham. The winger ran on to the ball at pace and did well under pressure from Montero to bag his first Test try, but that was as good as it got for Australia. Rather than building on the advantage, as they surely expected to do, they allowed Argentina back into the contest.

The Pumas scored their own converted try within minutes, Marcelo Bosch touching down in the left corner after Australia had been penalised for not being 10 metres when the visitors had tapped a penalty. And they were in again seven minutes later, capitalising after Rob Horne had lost the ball in contact deep in his own 22. Argentina recycled the ball and Nicolas Sanchez produced a super grubber through the line for Joaquin Tuculet to chase and touch down.

Australia's Sekope Kepu runs off the field, Australia v Argentina, Rugby Championship, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, September 13, 2014
Sekope Kepu was strong up front for Australia © Getty Images

Foley kicked a penalty almost straight from the kick-off, after Argentina failed to release under pressure from Matt Hodgson, but the Pumas would not lie down - pushing Australia deeper and deeper into home territory as the visitors' pack got the better of the Wallabies replacement front-rowers right until the moment after the siren that referee Glenn Jackon said "nine put the ball in and I never said yes".

Hooper said the Wallabies had allowed Argentina to get back in the game when they seemed set to clinch a dominant margin on the scoreboard, and the hosts were grateful that replacement Pumas half-back Tomas Cubelli dummied and died with the ball when a simple pop pass to Juan Imhoff would have put the winger over the stripe under the posts before the fateful last scrum engagements.

"That was due to our own ill discipline, our own errors," Hooper said. "Couldn't exist; knock-ons in our own D-Zone. We've got to be better there. Clinical. Take pressure off our backs."

Hooper also noted that Australia's scrum was good only "for about 60 minutes and then there was a lot of of penalties in that last 20 minutes".

McKenzie said: "We scrummed pretty well first 50, lineout was pretty good, too, but we started making a few errors and suddenly they're down your end and we saw some of their offloading game, which is pretty good."

Foley said: "We created a lot of opportunities, but it was a bit disappointing we couldn't capitalise and put them away a bit earlier. We had intentions to really play footy and we were guilty of coughing up ball. We created a lot; we've just got to get better at finishing."

Argentina captain Agustin Creavy simply lamented "we don't make a good game, we make a lot of mistakes", while Bosch described the difference between victory and defeat as "two or three metres and a pass to a team-mate".

Australia 32-25 Argentina (Australia only)
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